NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has beamed back an incredible image of its surroundings, showing a spectacularly clear view of the enormous mountain that it will clamber up in the next few years.
The photo — with one of the rover’s wheels visible in the bottom left corner, the rover’s shadow stretched out in front, and the huge Mount Sharp looming in the background — was released by NASA today (Aug. 6) in a news briefing from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
The image was sent back to Earth less than 24 hours after Curiosity (also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, or MSL) touched down on the Red Planet late Sunday night (Aug. 5 PDT; Aug. 6 EDT and GMT).
The photo is a full-resolution image that was taken by one of the rover’s Hazard Avoidance cameras, or Hazcams, said Joy Crisp, MSL deputy scientist at JPL.
Mount Sharp is a giant Martian peak that rises 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the center of Gale Crater. The mountain’s many geological layers are particularly intriguing to mission scientists, as they could hold a record of how the Red Planet has changed over time.