Here are some amazing new images of views across Mars’ Gale Crater – now being explored by NASA’s Curiosity rover. In these black-and-white images, the rover is using its NavCams (Navigational Cameras), which obtain a wide-angle view of the terrain, but don’t shoot in color as the rover’s 34mm and 100mm MastCams do.
The scene is certainly dried out, desiccated clay layers, laid down in the very remote past, approximately 4 billion years ago, when Mars was much warmer and wetter, with a far denser atmosphere than now.
The basalt dunes are informally known as the Bagnold Dunes and the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity is approaching a large dune with ripples. This dune will be a stopping point, hopefully revealing a bit about the historic volcanic activity on Mars as the dust in the dune is of volcanic origin and does not appear native to Gale Crater. Instead, it is dust blown in.
For me personally, this will be one of the highlights of the MSL Curiosity mission thus far, hopefully brining more information, building on what the Mars Exploration Rover A Spirit uncovered during the hugely successful mission in Gusev Crater from 2004 to 2011.
All images on this page are from the rover’s wide-angle NavCams (Navigational Cameras), which shoot in black-and-white. All images via NASA / JPL / Malin Space Science Systems. Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity.
Bottom line: New images from the surface of the planet next-door, Mars, acquired this week (November 25, 2015) by the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover.
Andrew R. Brown, an avid follower of the space program, writes frequently about space topics for EarthSky. Over several years, he has also suggested observations that were carried out by imaging teams of some space missions. He has lives in Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom and works for local government, Kent County Council.