Geology rocks! New photos from Mars (pictures)

Photos show a network of valleys on the surface of Mars believed to have been formed by water erosion.

It was just a week ago NASA's Mars rover Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars, and began transmitting high-resolution images of the stunning landscape from the landing site inside the Gale Crater. New color mosaics from the Mastcam show the geological environment around the rover, including layers of cobbles and pebbles embedded in a finer matrix of material, as well as a network of fluvial valleys believed to have been formed by water erosion.

Click the images to see the full-sized photos from the surface of Mars. (And when you're done viewing a full-size version, scroll to the bottom right corner of the image to close it.)

This image is the first high-resolution color mosaic from NASA's Curiosity rover, showing the geological environment around the rover's landing site in Gale Crater on Mars.
This image is the first high-resolution color mosaic from NASA's Curiosity rover, showing the geological environment around the rover's landing site in Gale Crater on Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
You can see the full-resolution version of the above panorama here.
This color image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows part of the wall of Gale Crater, the location on Mars where the rover landed on Aug. 5, 2012 PDT.
The Gale Crate wall north of the landing site shows a network of valleys that may be formed by erosion from water flowing into the Gale Crater.These fluvial systems are believed to be millions or even billions of years old -- from a time of Mars when water flowed freely across the surface. The main channel deposit seen here resembles a dirt road ascending into the mountains, which are actually the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
You can see the full-resolution version of the above image here.
Rockets from the descent stage of the rover's landing last week blew away fine dust on the surface, uncovering the bedrock below. Of particular note, NASA says, is a well-defined, topmost layer that contains fragments of rock embedded in a matrix of finer material, Seen here in the inset of the image are pebbles up to 1.25 inches  across (the upper two arrows) and a larger clast 4 inches long protruding up by about 2 inches from the layer in which it is embedded. Clast-rich sedimentary layers can form in a number of ways. Their mechanisms of formation can be distinguished by the size, shape, surface textures, and positioning with respect to each other of the fragments in the layers.
Rockets from the descent stage of the rover's landing last week blew away fine dust on the surface, uncovering the bedrock below. Of particular note, NASA says, is a well-defined, topmost layer that contains fragments of rock embedded in a matrix of finer material, Seen here in the inset of the image are pebbles up to 1.25 inches across (the upper two arrows) and a larger clast 4 inches long protruding up by about 2 inches from the layer in which it is embedded. Clast-rich sedimentary layers can form in a number of ways. Their mechanisms of formation can be distinguished by the size, shape, surface textures and positioning with respect to each other of the fragments in the layers.
You can see the full-resolution version of the above image here.

About the author

James Martin is the staff photographer at CNET News, covering the geeks and gadgets of Silicon Valley. When he's not live-blogging the latest product launches from Apple, Google, or Facebook, James can be found exploring NASA, probing robotics labs, and getting behind-the-scenes with some of the Bay Area's most innovative thinkers.

 

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