Mars Rover Curiosity Takes a Break to Survey Conquered Terrain (Photos, Video)

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A panoramic image that NASA's Curiosity rover took from a mountainside ridge on Mars provides a sweeping vista of the key sites visited since the rover's 2012 landing, the USA space agency said.

Curiosity's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, took the component images of the panorama three months ago while the rover paused on the northern edge of Vera Rubin Ridge.

The Mars Curiosity rover is sitting pretty on a ridge on Mars.

A view of "Vera Rubin Ridge" provided NASA's Curiosity Mars rover: This is a detailed look back over the area where the rover began its mission inside Gale Crater, and of more-distant features of the crater.

"Even though Curiosity has been steadily climbing for five years, this is the first time we could look back and see the whole mission laid out below us", said Curiosity project scientist Dr. Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASAThe Martian surface
NASAThe Martian surface

Curiosity team members have been troubleshooting this issue for more than a year now, and they've come up with a possible solution: using the robotic arm to push the extended bit against a rock, without the use of the stabilizer points. "From our perch on Vera Rubin Ridge, the vast plains of the crater floor stretch out to the spectacular mountain range that forms the northern rim of Gale Crater".

The impressive imagery, stitched together from 16 different shots, was taken on October 25, 2017, as the northern hemisphere of Mars approached its winter solstice and the weather was nice and clear. On the northern horizon, a hill rises about 50 miles (85 km) beyond Gale Crater.

Curiosity's landing site at the bottom of the crater can not be seen, as it is blocked by a slight ridge. In 2013, evidence of a long-ago freshwater environment capable of hosting the chemicals needed by microbial life was discovered in the region known as "Yellowknife Bay".

Since leaving that site, the rover has climbed another 85 feet (26 m) in elevation.

Before departing for Clay Unit, mission scientists plan to drill into Vera Rubin Ridge to acquire powdered rock samples for analysis by the rover's science instruments. She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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