Astronomy Picture of the Day
August 6, 2015

Geological Features of Mount Sharp - Soles 952 and 953
Geological Features of Mount Sharp - Soles 952 and 953

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

A Southward-looking Panorama obtained by combining several images from both Cameras of the Mast Camera (or "MastCam", for short) Instrument located onboard the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory shows us diverse Geological Textures on Mount Sharp. Three years after the landing on Mars, the Mission is now investigating this Layered Mountain for (possible) evidence about the occurrence of changes in the Martian Environmental Conditions, from an ancient time when the Atmospherical Conditions were favorable for the development of Microbial Life, to the much-drier present.

Gravel and Sand Ripples fill the foreground, typical of Terrains that Curiosity traversed to reach Mount Sharp from its Landing Site. The Rocky Outcrops located in the midfield are of two types: Dust-covered, smooth Bedrock that formed the base of the Mountain, and Sandstone Ridges that shed Boulders as they were eroded. The round-shaped Buttes - which are visible in the distance - contain Sulfate Minerals, perhaps indicating a change in the availability of Water when they formed. Some of the Layering Patterns existing on higher levels of Mount Sharp (in the background) are tilted at different angles than others: and this is evidence of complicated Geological relationships that are still to be deciphered.

The scene spans from South/Eastward at left (Sx), to South/Westward, at right (Dx). The component images were taken on April 10 and 11, 2015, such as the 952nd and 953rd Martian Days (or Soles) since the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory landed on Mars (such as August, 6th, 2012, UTC - or August 5, 2012, PDT). Images in the central part of the panorama are from the MastCam's Right-Eye Camera, which is equipped with a 100-millimeter-focal-length telephoto lens. Images used in the outer portions of the mosaic, including the most distant portions of the Mountain visible in the scene, were taken with the MastCam's Left-Eye Camera, using a wider-angle, 34-millimeter lens.

This picture (which is an Original White-Balanced Image-Mosaic obtained by the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory on April, 10 and 11, 2015, and identified, on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal, by the ID n. PIA-19803) has been additionally processed, increased in size to improve the visibility of the details, Gamma corrected and then re-colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal - in the average - human eye would actually perceive if someone were on the Surface of Mars, near the NASA - Mars Curiosity Rover and Laboratory, and then looked ahead, towards the Horizon and Sky above Mount Sharp - Gale Crater), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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