Curiosity Rover Climbing Mount Mercou in Gale Crater
Curiosity Rover Climbing Mount Mercou in Gale Crater
ESP_069031_1750  Science Theme: Mass Wasting Processes
The Curiosity rover has been exploring Gale Crater since 6 August 2012, and has driven more than 25 kilometers to date. The rover is currently ascending “Mount Mercou,” a broad outcrop of rocks on the northern flank of “Mount Sharp” near the center of the crater.

Gale Crater is approximately 150 kilometers across and Mt. Sharp is more than 5 kilometers high in total. The rover is about the size of a small car and is currently located near and above an approximately 6 meter-high cliff where it examined the exposed rocks.

The rover previously drilled into the rocks at the base of the cliff. Scientists are interested in comparing the rocks from the bottom to the top to investigate how any changes may relate to the appearance of the rocks exposed on the cliff face.

NB: The image has a pixel-scale of 26 centimeters, thereby indicating that most features a few pixels across (a little under a meter across) can be resolved on the surface. Names in quotes are informal, not approved by the International Astronomical Union.

Written by: John Grant  (21 May 2021)

Acquisition date
18 April 2021

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
269.4 km (167.5 miles)

Original image scale range
27.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~81 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
53°, with the Sun about 37° above the horizon

Solar longitude
33.2°, Northern Spring

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  97°
Sub-solar azimuth:  26.7°
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Black and white
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non-map           (452MB)

IRB color
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Merged IRB
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Merged RGB
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RGB color
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B&W label
Color label
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EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.