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Emily LakdawallaOctober 1, 2012

Beautiful rocks ahead at Glenelg, but first, Curiosity must dig in the sand

Check out Curiosity's view as of sol 54, gazing east toward Glenelg with the zoomed-in view of Mastcam 100. It doesn't look like much at this resolution; you really have to enlarge it to see the whole thing. Not only are the rocks in view interesting, but there are so many interesting-looking different kinds of rocks, from thin platy ones in the middle to angular cobbles at right to two lumps that look like sleeping sea lions toward the left. So much to see!

Panoramic view of

NASA / JPL / MSSS / James Canvin

Panoramic view of "Glenelg," Curiosity sol 54
A Mastcam 100 mosaic looking at Glenelg. The three rock types that meet at this site are the foreground, the bedrock left/middle distance and the more distant terrain.

Compare it to the orbital view of Glenelg:

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 where Curiosity is right now:

Curiosity route map to sol 55

NASA / JPL / UA / Phil Stooke

Curiosity route map to sol 55

But I think we're going to have to wait a bit to enjoy the diverse rocks at Glenelg, because this is what Curiosity has in view right now:

NASA / JPL / Damia Bouic

"Rocknest," Curiosity sol 55
This sand drift, named Rocknest, became the target for Curiosity's first soil sampling. After taking this panorama on sol 55, Curiosity drove slightly to the right and then took a sharp left turn to prepare to position a front wheel on top of the nearest sand drift. Click through for the sol 56 view.

Will this sand ripple be the source of Curiosity's first soil sample? If so, get used to the view, because we're going to be here for two or three weeks. Good thing it's a nice view! Meanwhile, on sol 51, they checked out the soil scoop, which appears to be clean and ready for action:

Curiosity's soil scoop, ready for action (sol 51)


Curiosity's soil scoop, ready for action (sol 51)
Curiosity took this photo on sol 51 (September 27, 2012). The soil scoop is still pristinely clean, before the first attempt at sampling.

Read more: pretty pictures, data art (was amateur image processing), mission status, 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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