NASA Mars rover's color view of likely route West

February 5, 2014
This view combines several frames taken by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, looking into a valley to the west from the eastern side of a dune at the eastern end of the valley. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will likely drive the rover westward over a dune and across a valley with fewer sharp rock hazards than alternative routes.

A final decision on whether to pass through this valley will ride on evaluation of a short drive planned this week toward the top of the that lies across "Dingo Gap."

The dune is about 3 feet (1 meter) high at its center, tapered off at both sides of the gap between two low scarps.

A color view assembled from images taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) on the east side of the dune shows details of the valley that the may traverse this month.

Explore further: Curiosity rover nearing Yellowknife Bay

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5 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2014
I cannot believe they are thinking about driving through that sand. At first, I thought the light colored background at the top of the image were clouds, but then I realized that is Mount Sharp. If the rocks here are this rough, I can't imagine what it's going to be like trying to find a clear path up the side of the mountain. That mountainside in the distance looks very imposing. If the rover makes it though, it'll be very exciting for sure.

I'll bet they go for thicker and harder tires if they send another rover like this.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 05, 2014
Look below and to the left of the big rock on the right. Looks like an alien face sculpted in stone. Very fine work indeed, particularly around the eye. Wouldn't like to meet the sitter on a dark night, though.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2014
Let's hope for an other picture, from an other angle.
"The face" is interesting enough to worth the effort and energy to beam back to earth a new picture!
1 / 5 (1) Feb 05, 2014
Yeah, and just behind it is the remains of a fluted column, while down hill, the next big boulder has a pipe sticking out of it ........ :-)
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2014
On the left side, where the curved dune meets the rocks, there is what looks like white graffiti on a rock, with an arrow pointing near it. I'll guess the graffiti is someones name, anne Zoe is what it looks like to me.
Further up and to the right a little, I see some bastard has dumped an old CRT TV there.

If you look at the center of the curved dune, then go right a bit, the first rock looks like some cardboard sticking out of the sand!! Very weird rock!!

Follow the meter markers out to the horizon and there looks to be a massive crater in the mountains. Very scenic.

@Wealth Oh and I love the face you pointed out.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2014
They need a Mars 4wd, so it doesn't get bogged going up that sandy hill.
4.8 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2014
They need a Mars 4wd, so it doesn't get bogged going up that sandy hill.

The rover is 6wd, with traction control. They could have used larger diameter tires, but then the drive motors (and all the other parts of the suspension) would need to handle a lot more torque. Always compromise in a spacecraft.

It would be awesome to have a vehicle as robust as a military off-road vehicle, like an infantry fighting vehicle without all the armor and stuff. But, oh well. We sent just about the maximum weight we can send with current technology. The atmosphere of mars places a severe limit on the maximum weight we can land there.
5 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2014
The rover is 6wd, with traction control. They could have used larger diameter tires, but then the drive motors (and all the other parts of the suspension) would need to handle a lot more torque. Always compromise in a spacecraft.

Interesting to know. Yeah, I guess I didn't really think about the size of the rover. And I agree with you, I think it'd be interesting too, but I get that it'd be more difficult.

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