NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is slowly working its way up the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, a towering mound of sedimentary rock in the centre of Gale Crater. On 11 October, Curiosity used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera, mounted on the end of the rover’s robot arm, to collect 57 images that were stitched together to form the panorama seen here (the robot arm is not visible in the composite image). Just to the left of the rover, two drill holes can be seen – Glen Etive 1, right, and Glen Etive 2, left – where samples were collected for chemical analysis by the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument in the rover’s belly. About 300 metres (984 feet) behind Curiosity, Vera Rubin Ridge can be seen. The floor of Gale Crater and its northern rim are visible in the background. Since landing in Gale Crater seven years ago, Curiosity has snapped more than 610,000 images and traveled more than 21 kilometres (13 miles) over the course of 2,565 martian days.
NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars is currently on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp in a region covered in sandstone where it has just drilled its fifth prospecting hole. Two weeks ago, still in the same general vicinity, Curiosity took a pair of long-range scenic images toward higher regions of the mountain — beautiful views worthy of a postcard home.