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Emily LakdawallaSeptember 28, 2012

Curiosity Update, Sol 52: Glenelg Ho!

It's sol 52 and Curiosity is now within spitting distance of its first science destination within Gale crater: a spot the team has named Glenelg. Here's an orbital view of what brings Curiosity to this location: the conjunction of three distinctly different types of rock.

Curiosity's first destination: Glenelg

NASA / JPL / UA / Emily Lakdawalla

Curiosity's first destination: Glenelg
A cropped view of a HiRISE image taken 6 days after Curiosity landed includes a "triple junction" of three different rock types. The team named that spot "Glenelg" and planned to make that Curiosity's first driving destination. The rover is visible at far left, surrounded by a dark splash where its landing jets disturbed the dust.

Here's a route map maintained by Phil Stooke, showing just how close Curiosity now is to this first destination.

Curiosity route map to sol 52

NASA / JPL / UA / Phil Stooke

Curiosity route map to sol 52

And here's the view out the front windshield (so to speak). The "high-thermal-inertia unit" has a distinctly brighter tone than the rock Curiosity is currently driving on:

Curiosity Navcam panorama, sol 52 (partial)

NASA / JPL / Michael Howard

Curiosity Navcam panorama, sol 52 (partial)

There was a press briefing yesterday, featuring the announcement that some of the rocks Curiosity has been sitting on, including this cool site now named "Hottah," are conglomerates containing rounded cobbles cemented into a rock. This is pretty much diagnostic of a vigorous running-water environment, that is to say a river on the order of a meter deep. Here's a really nice video explanation from JPL:

Please accept marketing-cookies to watch this video.

To my surprise, they didn't talk either about what they had learned at the "Jake Matijevic" rock, or about the Phobos and Deimos transit images they took over the last weeks. Which means I'm going to have to do some investigative journalism to tell those stories. But not today; I have to write my What's Up in October post. Stay tuned....

Read more: data art (was amateur image processing), mission status, explaining science, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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