Mount Sharp on Mars: Curiosity Rover's Panoramic View (Photo)

The Heights of Mount Sharp
The Martian mountain rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) above the floor of Gale Crater. About 26 Navcam images in the panorama were taken late at night on Aug. 7, 2012. Four other images were taken Aug. 18, 2012. (Image credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech)

The heights of Mount Sharp on Mars can be seen in this panoramic view from NASA's Curiosity rover.

Taken Aug. 18, the photo mosaic shows the highest point of the Martian mountain as  seen from Curiosity's Gale Crater landing site by the rover's navigation cameras. Along with the four Navcam images taken on the Aug. 18, this mosaic includes 26 Navcam images taken on Aug 7.

Mount Sharp rises about 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) above the floor of Gale Crater. Scientists believe the layers of sediments in the mountain could give clues to how an ancient time of flowing water on the planet transformed into the dry, dusty era of today.

The image shows a flat horizon because it's a cylindrical projection. Simply put, if a cylinder were wrapped around a globe, then mapped and unwrapped it would create such a projection. Maps of Earth with latitude and longitude lines are examples of cylindrical projections.

The name Mount Sharp is actually a nickname by NASA for the mountain at the heart of Gale Crater, which is formally known as Aeolis Mons. The Mount Sharp name was picked to honor the late Caltech geologist Robert Sharp.

The $2.5 billion Mars rover Curiosity landed on the Red Planet on Aug. 5 and is beginning a two-year mission to explore Gale Crater. The 1-ton rover is the size of a small car and carries 10 instruments to determine if Mars was ever, or is now, capable of supporting primitive microbial life.

For complete coverage of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit here.

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