NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in August 2012, and has been exploring Gale Crater on the red planet for upwards of 1458 Sols, or 1498 total days, in Earth parlance. As it collects data that will ultimately allow NASA to conduct a manned Martian mission one day, the robot last week beamed some vivid color photos back down to its control center, which are now intriguing the internet.
The images offer an incredible look at the rock formations of Mount Sharp -- the 18,000 ft. mountain at the center of the Gale Crater -- and an eerily similar vibe to the deserts of the American southwest.
Through the lens of Curiosity, see a landscape not unlike the arid peaks and jagged rocks offered in Ridley Scott’s The Martian:
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Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada said of the photos: “Curiosity's science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars," which makes sense if you’ve ever driven through a lonesome desert highway in Arizona or Utah, because the regions kind of look like Mars.
The photos are of the "Murray Buttes" region of lower Mount Sharp. Per a NASA press release, we learn that the “Martian buttes and mesas rising above the surface are eroded remnants of ancient sandstone that originated when winds deposited sand after lower Mount Sharp had formed.” NASA also notes that it took some 2 billion years for Mount Sharp to become the towering rock formation that it is today.
NASA says the images will eventually comprise several color mosaics. In the meantime, ogle these mystifying photographs of our nearest planetary neighbor, which is only 140 million miles away (!).
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Sam Blum is a Staff News Writer at Thrillist, and really hopes Elon Musk can save humanity by sending Kanye West and Justin Bieber to Mars. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.