Curiosity has just sent back a grim image of its lonely sight on Mars

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Ricky Joseph

In Gale Crater, Curiosity is studying the layers of weathered rock around the base of Mount Sharp, which rises from the crater's center. But it's not just rocks that show up in the photos Curiosity returns to Earth.

The image above was taken using the rover's right navigation camera B on November 1, or Sol 2573. It shows the view from the crater rim.

In the foreground, the rover gently leans toward the mountain. In the distance, on the rim of Gale crater - created in a giant meteorite impact billions of years ago - rises out of the dusty haze.

The image appears to show isolation from Curiosity's mission - after Opportunity's sad closure, Curiosity is now the only rover operating on Mars (InSight is a stationary module.) But the instrument has no time to idle and contemplate its lonely fate.Central Butte photo taken on Nov. 1 or Sol 2572. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)

The central butte is deeply interesting geologically, with layers of sedimentary rocks that hold clues about the region's waters in the distant past. Curiosity will explore these sedimentary layers to try to assess their extent.

Sol 2572. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Curiosity's instruments are also investigating the rock variations in the region - there are some different colors in the rocks that suggest various stratigraphic units. The data obtained by Curiosity will help characterize these units, and how they may be related to each other.

The rover will also capture images of a region on top of the mountain - very difficult for the rover to reach, but within its range.

"After all these observations, Curiosity will begin circling the hill to look at it from the other side," wrote planetary geologist Kristen Bennett of the United States Geological Survey on NASA's Mars Exploration website.

SOURCE / Science Alert

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