NASA's Curiosity rover has just sent back a series of images revealing new details about a mysterious region on Mars.
NASA has just released a series of stunning new images taken by the Curiosity Mars rover, revealing new details about the red planet’s geologic history. The images depict the “Murray Buttes,” a region on the lower end of Mount Sharp. The images were taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera.
The Curiosity rover has been cruising around the Murray Buttes for the past month, and recently left to continue driving south along the rocky surface of Mars. Following its journey over the Buttes, Curiosity will begin a new drilling campaign to evaluate samples taken from the Martian ground.
The photos, which can be found here, show sloping buttes and mesas left over from the movement of ancient sandstone deposited on lower Mount Sharp. The images depict features including the “Stimson formation” and the “Naukluft Plateau.” Scientists say that the sandstone comprising these regions was formed as massive sand dunes were driven by high winds.
Curiosity has been on Mount Sharp since 2014, but spent its first two years on the red planet examining the plains at the mountain’s base. Scientists were able to determine that the sediments in these plains were deposited by ancient Martian lakes which could have potentially accomodated microbial life at one point.
The rover will continue driving along Mount Sharp in hopes of revealing more about Mars’ geologic history. Scientists hope they can determine the drivers behind Mars’ transformation from a planet that could have potentially hosted life to the barren, rocky desert it is today.
“Curiosity’s science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.