Among the Martian Hills: Curiosity Rover Peers At Rocks Of Mount Sharp

After a couple of years of racing towards Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons), now it’s time for the Curiosity rover to get a better look at its Martian surroundings. The rover has reached its stated science destination and mission planners say now is the time to stop the driving and get deep into the science.

NASA is on the hunt for signs of habitability on the Red Planet, and officials hope that the layers of this big mountain will yield a wealth of information on Martian history.

“This first look at rocks we believe to underlie Mount Sharp is exciting because it will begin to form a picture of the environment at the time the mountain formed, and what led to its growth,” stated Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s deputy project scientist in a press release from late September.

As Curiosity drills and analyzes rocks at its feet, it continues to send back stunning pictures of its surroundings. Check out a sample from this week below.

Mars Curiosity peers over a craggy ridge on Oct. 7, 2014 (Sol 771). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Martian hills beckon in this photo from the Curiosity rover taken Oct. 7, 2014, on Sol 771. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Close-up of a brush instrument on the Mars Curiosity rover on Oct. 3 (Sol 767). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Cracked terrain underfoot seen by the Martian Curiosity rover on Oct. 7, 2014 (Sol 771). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

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