Astronomy Picture of the Day
March 27, 2014

Sandstone Layers - Sol 553
Sandstone Layers - Sol 553

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process and color.

Many Sandstone Layers with varying resistance to (at least two main different forms of) Erosion (the first one caused by running Waters and the second, once the Water was gone, by an intense Aeolian Activity) are evident in this Martian Image-Mosaic recorded by the Mast Camera (or "MastCam", for short) located onboard the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory Curiosity. The component images of the scene were taken by the MastCam's Left-Eye Camera shortly before midday (---> h. 12:00 Mars Local Solar Time) of the 553rd Martian Day, or Sol, of the Rover's work at Gale Crater - Mars (such as February 25, 2014 on Earth).

The location is about one-quarter of a mile (such as approx. 400 meters) North/North-West of a planned waypoint, nicknamed "The Kimberley", by Straight-Line Distance (but said approx. 400 mt "Straight-Line Distance", of course, will get longer if you consider the so-called "Driving Distance" - such as the actual path that the Rover shall have to make on the Martian Surface in order to reach The Kimberley).

The differing degrees of resistance to Erosion resulted in a Stair-stepped Pattern which is very well visible here. The steeper Steps resulted from more resistant Rock, so the flat, tan Surface must be a weakly (---> fragile) resistant Sandstone. The small Steps located to the right of center are a bit more resistant, and the steeper Steps visible near the top of the scene are even harder.

This picture (which is a crop taken from an Original NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory - "Curiosity" White-Balanced image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal and identified by the ID n. PIA 17959) has been additionally processed, reduced in size, Gamma corrected and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal - meaning "in the average" - human eye would actually perceive if someone were on the Surface of Mars, near the NASA - Mars Exploration Rover (MER) - Mars Laboratory Curiosity, and then looked ahead, towards the Sandstone Layers), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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