NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover has recently captured five stunning photographs from its travels, and people are comparing the snaps to landforms back here on Earth.
"Curiosity's science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars," says Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
People on social media seem to agree with the "American desert" comparison, with many comparing the Martian landscape to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Curiosity has been “exploring the ‘Murray Buttes’ region of lower Mount Sharp” for just over a month now. Its latest drilling campaign commenced last Friday on September 9, the day after the Rover’s latest photos were taken.
Understanding Martian buttes (a hill with vertical sides and a flat top) and mesas (a large, wide tableland) can help piece together the geological history of the planet, particularly what caused the planet’s previously habitable conditions to disappear.
"Studying these buttes up close has given us a better understanding of ancient sand dunes that formed and were buried, chemically changed by groundwater, exhumed and eroded to form the landscape that we see today," says Vasavada.
Following this drilling, Curiosity will continue its further up Mount Sharp, journeying southward of the planet.