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NASA Mars Curiosity rover captures ghostly snapshot of Mount Sharp

Mount Sharp is very pretty today. Wish you were here. Love, the Curiosity rover.

Curiosity captured this view of Mount Sharp on July 30.


NASA's Curiosity rover is super busy doing science on Mars, but it still has time for some sightseeing. The rover snapped a panoramic view of Mount Sharp from a perch on top of a long, steep slope on Tuesday. We see a lot of close-up views of rocks and dust, so this scenic lookout is a fabulous reminder of just how varied the Mars landscape can be. 

Mount Sharp is the central peak inside the Gale Crater and reaches 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) above the crater floor. There's a ghostly quality to the raw image, which hasn't been processed to show Mars' typical reddish color scheme. 

"We have arguably one of the best backdrops we have ever had during a drill campaign," Curiosity team member Mariah Baker, a planetary geologist at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in a mission update this week.

Curiosity has been exploring an area with the extremely cool nickname "Visionarium," a place filled with interesting rock layers and textures. The rover team is currently eyeing a good spot to drill so we can learn more about the makeup of the rocks here.   

If the planning pans out, Curiosity could be drilling this weekend, giving scientists another taste of this fascinating clay-rich area of Mars

The rover is investigating the history of water on Mars and searching for signs of organic compounds. And it's doing it in a lovely, otherworldly location with heart-fluttering views of Mount Sharp.