Mars Curiosity is like a super hero probe compared to her less endowed peers and this week she began proving it. While I’m not planetary geologist, that looks like the spittin image of marine strata exposed by some kind of erosion:
Homepage — A chapter of the layered geological history of Mars is laid bare in this postcard from NASA’s Curiosity rover. The image shows the base of Mount Sharp, the rover’s eventual science destination. …
For scale, an annotated version of the figure highlights a dark rock that is approximately the same size as Curiosity. The pointy mound in the center of the image, looming above the rover-sized rock, is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high.
I found the scale explanation a tad confusing. But to get an idea where the rover is and what its looking at, here’s a three d map of the LZ, Gale Crater, with the central mountains obvious and Cursiosity’s position right in the middle of that oval just below center of the shot.
The pile in the middle is called Aeolis Mons. But it’s known more popularly as Mt. Sharp and that’s what the rover is looking it. Distances are hard to judge on Mars, these hills are slumpy and rolling, plus the air can be really clear and it’s super thin to start with.
Bottom line, those cliffs are further away than they look. If I’ve got my distances and conversions right in my head as this is written, something I’m not entirely sure about, the hill tops on the horizon are roughly similar to the Swiss Alps in terms of altitude. These are B-I-G features with B-I-G layering easily visible from 10 to 20 miles.