Gale Crater, home to NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, shows a new face in this mosaic image made using data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.
The colors come from an image processing technique that identifies mineral differences in surface materials and displays them in false colors. For example, windblown dust appears pale pink and olivine-rich basalt looks purple. The bright pink on Gale's floor appears due to a mix of basaltic sand and windblown dust. The blue at the summit of Gale's central mound, Mount Sharp, probably comes from local materials exposed there. The typical average Martian surface soil looks grayish-green. Scientists use false-color images such as these to identify places of potential geologic interest.
The diameter of the crater is 96 miles (154 kilometers). North is up. THEMIS and other instruments on Mars Odyssey have been studying Mars from orbit since 2001. Curiosity landed in the northeastern portion of Gale Crater in 2012 and climbed onto the flank of Mount Sharp in 2014.
Please see the THEMIS Data Citation Note for details on crediting THEMIS images.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) was developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. The THEMIS investigation is led by Dr. Philip Christensen at Arizona State University. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the Odyssey project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.