Tonight's Sky
Sun
Sun
Moon
Moon
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Mars
Mars
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn

Tonight's Sky — Change location

OR

Searching...

Tonight's Sky — Select location

Tonight's Sky — Enter coordinates

° '
° '

Curiosity captures a snapshot of Mars' past

NASA's rover captured images of layered rock formations on the "Murray Buttes" region of Mount Sharp last week.
Formations on Mars
One of the images captured by NASA's rover Curiosity.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Curiosity, NASA’s rover currently exploring Mars, captured images on Thursday, September 8 of layered rock formations in the “Murray Buttes” region of Mount Sharp. 

The images, which were taken by Curiosity’s Mastcam, show the beautiful formation in spectacular detail. Scientists say the formations were caused by sand dunes becoming buried, chemically changed, exhumed, and then eroded.

Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in November 2011. It then landed on Mount Sharp in August of 2012 and reached the base of the mountain in 2014. The rover studies the climate and layout of Mars in preparation for future human exploration, and the information collected will serve as a foundation for the Mars 2020 rover.

Curiosity found evidence for ancient lakes, providing evidence that if Mars ever hosted life it would have been sustainable for microbes. It is also looking into how earlier habitable conditions transformed into Mars’ current dry, inhospitable state.

The images are helpful for scientists trying to gain a better understanding of how the visible landscape came to be the way we currently see it.

Curiosity has been driving in the Murray Buttes for over one month and is currently driving south up the base of the final butte on its last stop. On September 9, it started a drilling campaign and will continue higher up Mount Sharp once the campaign is completed.

0

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Read and share your comments on this article
Comment on this article
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of Astronomy.com are allowed to comment on this article. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
0 comments
ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter. View our Privacy Policy.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
asy_LifeOnMars_rightrail

Click here to receive a FREE e-Guide exclusively from Astronomy magazine.

Find us on Facebook