Mount Sharp on Mars: 1st 2-D and 3-D Views of Curiosity’s Ultimate Mountain Goal

Article written: 8 Aug , 2012
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

Image Caption: Clear View on Mars – This image comparison shows a view through a Hazard-Avoidance camera on NASA’s Curiosity rover before and after the clear dust cover was removed. Both images were taken by a camera at the front of the rover. Mount Sharp, the mission’s ultimate destination, looms ahead. See the first 3 D and 2 D full res images with no dust cover, below. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity, NASA’s new car sized rover on Mars has sent back her first breathtaking views of Mount Sharp, the huge nearby mountain that enticed scientists to set Gale Crater as her touchdown goal.

And already within the first 2 Sols, or martian days, the rover has beamed back magnificent 2D and 3 D vistas of the landscape surrounding her.

The unprecedented rocket powered “Sky Crane” descent maneuver that lowered Curiosity by cables upon the Red Planet’s surface rover with pinpoint accuracy, set her down in a position inside Gale Crater that fortuitously pointed her front Hazard Avoidance (Hazcam) cameras towards a stupendous panoramic view of Mount Sharp.

The terrain is strewn with small pebbles that may stem from a nearby alluvial fan through which liquid water flowed long ago, scientist think.

The top image set shows the spectacular side by side views of Mount Sharp before and after the protective dust covers were popped off.

Mount Sharp is taller than Mount Ranier, the tallest mountain in the US in the lower 48 states. It’s about 3.5 miles (5.5 km) high.

Curiosity is roughly 6 km distant from Mount Sharp, as the martian crow flies.

The image below is the first full resolution Hazcam version of Mount Sharp.

Curiosity’s Early Views of Mars. This full-resolution image shows one of the first views from NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (early morning hours Aug. 6 EDT). It was taken through a “fisheye” wide-angle lens on one of the rover’s front Hazard-Avoidance cameras. These engineering cameras are located at the rover’s base. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Here’s the first 3D version of Mount Sharp assembled from both front cameras.

Image Caption: 3-D View from the Front of Curiosity. This image is a 3-D view in front of NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The anaglyph was made from a stereo pair of Hazard-Avoidance Cameras on the front of the rover. Mount Sharp, a peak that is about 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) high, is visible rising above the terrain, though in one “eye” a box on the rover holding the drill bits obscures the view. This image was captured by Hazard-Avoidance cameras on the front of the rover at full resolution shortly after the rover landed. It has been linearized to remove the distorted appearance that results from its fisheye lens. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC,, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight – Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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7 Responses

  1. Bil Irving says

    Spelling mistake in headline – should be ‘mountain’, not ‘mountian’. Sorry for mentioning. 🙁

  2. JonHanford says

    “Mount Sharp is taller than Mount Ranier, the tallest mountain in the US in the lower 48 states.”

    Isn’t Mt Whitney the tallest peak in the lower 48?

  3. Member
    Aqua4U says

    The overhead view from the MRO shows 3 distinct types of soils near Curiosity’s LZ. The image(s) above, looking toward Mt. Sharp appear to show not only the nearby dune field(s) but also apparently some of the transition zone in the soils…

  4. nuoji says

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