What Mount Sharp Would Look Like on Earth

Ahh — there’s nothing like a beautiful sunny day in Gale crater! The rusty sand crunching beneath your wheels, a gentle breeze blowing at a balmy 6º C (43º F), Mount Sharp rising in the distance into a clear blue sky… wait, did I just say blue sky?

I sure did. But no worries — Mars hasn’t sprouted a nitrogen-and-oxygen atmosphere overnight. The image above is a crop from a panoramic mosaic made of images from NASA’s Curiosity rover, showing Gale crater’s central peak Mount Sharp (or Aeolis Mons, if you prefer the official moniker.) Don’t let the blue sky fool you though — the lighting has been adjusted to look like a sunlit scene on Earth, if only to let geologists more easily refer to their own experience when studying the Martian landscape.

Click the image to see the full panorama, and a view of the same scene under more “natural” Martian lighting can be found below:

Aeolis Mons panorama seen in natural lighting (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

According to JPL, in both versions the sky has been filled out by extrapolating color and brightness information from the portions of the sky that were captured in images of the terrain.

The elevation of Mt. Sharp compared to three mountains on Earth (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The component images were taken by the 100-millimeter-focal-length telephoto lens camera mounted on the right side of Curiosity’s remote sensing mast, during the 45th Martian day of the rover’s mission on Mars (Sept. 20, 2012).

Informally named after planetary scientist Robert Sharp by the MSL science team, the peak rises rises more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the floor of Gale crater.

See more news and images from the Curiosity rover here (and to find out what the latest weather conditions in Gale crater are visit MarsWeather.com here.)

Jason Major

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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