Science & Technology

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Spots a “Doorway” on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured images of a mound of rock on Mount Sharp called “East Cliffs” that features a fracture that resembles a doorway. Because of its small size — about 12 inches by 16 inches — some call it a “dog door.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to capture this mound of rock nicknamed “East Cliffs” on May 7, 2022, the 3,466th sol, or Martian day, of the mission. The mound, on Mount Sharp, has a number of naturally occurring open fractures – including one roughly 12 inches (30 centimeters) tall and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide, similar in size to a dog door. These kinds of open fractures are common in bedrock, both on Earth and on Mars.

Curiosity is currently investigating a region on Mount Sharp that may hold evidence of a major change from wetter to drier conditions in Mars’ early history.

Figure A. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The main panorama included here was stitched together using 113 images from Mastcam’s left lens. The image is processed to approximate the color and brightness of the scene as it would look to the human eye under normal daytime conditions on Earth.

Figure B. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Figure B is the same scene as Figure A, the main panorama, but captured using 114 images from the right lens and showing the top of the mound more thoroughly. The “door” has been circled in this image.

Figure C. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Figure C is the same right-lens view panorama as Figure B, but as a 3D anaglyph viewable with red-blue glasses.

Figure D. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Figure D is zoomed in on the “dog door”-shaped open fracture, as a 3D anaglyph.

Figure E. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Figure E is the same 3D anaglyph as Figure D, but with annotations indicating the approximate width, height, and depth of the open fracture.

A low-angle self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which leads the mission on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego built and operates Mastcam.

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