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Mars Target: Mount Sharp

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has clicked away to create a panoramic view of Mount Sharp. The lower slopes of Mount Sharp are the major destination for the wheeled robot.

A mosaic of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Curiosity shows Mount Sharp in a white-balanced color adjustment that makes the sky look overly blue but shows the terrain as if under Earth-like lighting.

White-balancing helps scientists recognize rock materials based on their experience looking at rocks on Earth. The Martian sky would look more of a butterscotch color to the human eye.

White balancing yields an overly blue hue in images that have very little blue information, such as Martian landscapes, because the white balancing tends to overcompensate for the low inherent blue content.

Go to and zoom in at:

Layered mound

Mount Sharp, also called Aeolis Mons, is a layered mound in the center of Mars’ Gale Crater. It rises more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor, where Curiosity has been working since the rover’s landing in August 2012.

At the moment, Curiosity is destined to first spend many more weeks around a location called “Yellowknife Bay” – a site where the rover has found evidence of a past environment favorable for microbial life.

A raw-color version of the mosaic is available at:

Raw color shows the scene’s colors as they would look in a typical smart-phone camera photo.

By Leonard David


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