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Mars Curiosity rover sends a postcard

If you want to imagine standing on the surface of the Red Planet Mars … look at this.

View larger. | The foothills of Mount Sharp, the central peak within the Gale Crater on Mars.

View larger. | The foothills of Mount Sharp, the central peak within the Gale Crater on Mars. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

NASA is calling the composite image above a postcard, and if you view the large version of the image, you’ll see why. It shows what you’d see if you were riding aboard the Curiosity rover on Mars, right now.

The car-sized Mars rover Curiosity rover – launched in late 2011, with touchdown on Mars in August, 2012 – has been studying the foothills of Mount Sharp since September, 2014. The rover moves slowly across Mars’ surface, with an average speed of about 100 feet (30 meters) per hour. Yet this slow, but sure motion of the rover is now carrying it up Mount Sharp, and this new composite image – taken on September 9, 2015 and released on October 2 – shows the direction in which Curiosity is going.

Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada said in an October 2 statement from NASA.

The only thing more stunning than these images is the thought that Curiosity will be driving through those lower hills one day.

We couldn’t help but send a postcard back to all those following her journey.

Check this out … NASA orbiter views real ‘Martian’ sites

View larger. | The foothills of Mount Sharp, the central peak within the Gale Crater on Mars.

View larger. | A postcard to you, from the Curiosity rover on Mars. Image taken September 9, 2015 by Curiosity. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

One of the first images from Curiosity of Mars' surface.  Colors images should start coming in later today (August 7).  Here's the shadow of the rover in the foreground, with Mt. Sharp in the background - a destination for the rover in its Mars exploration.  Image Credit: NASA

Here’s one of the first images from Curiosity on Mars’ surface, acquired August 7, 2012, with Mount Sharp appearing in the distance. The shadow of the rover is in the foreground of this image. Image via NASA.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS

Oblique view of Gale Crater, and Mount Sharp, derived from a combination of elevation and imaging data from three Mars orbiters. Green dot shows where the Curiosity rover landed, within its targeted landing ellipse outlined in blue. Mount Sharp rises about 3.4 miles (5.5 km) above the floor of Gale Crater. What’s labeled as Curiosity’s “planned” route in this image has been, more or less, its actual route. Curiosity is now in the foothills of Mount Sharp. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/MSSS.

Bottom line: What NASA is calling a “postcard” – really, a spectacular composite image – from the surface of Mars. The Mars Curiosity rover captured the image on September 9, 2015.

Deborah Byrd

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