This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows an example of a type of geometrically distinctive feature that researchers are using Curiosity to examine at a mudstone outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp.
This image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the first sample-collection hole drilled in Mount Sharp, the layered mountain that is the science destination of the rover's extended mission.
Curiosity Mars Rover's Approach to 'Pahrump Hills'
This southeastward-looking vista from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop and surrounding terrain seen from a position about 70 feet (20 meters) northwest of the outcrop.
Curiosity Mars Rover's Route from Landing to 'Pahrump Hills'
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the 'Bradbury Landing' location where it landed in August 2012 to the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop where it drilled into the lowest part of Mount Sharp.
This image, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the transition between the 'Murray Formation,' in which layers are poorly expressed and difficult to trace from orbit, and the hematite ridge, which is made up of continuous layers.
This image, taken NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows distinct bands of alternating tone and brightness within the 'Murray Formation' on Mars. Outcrops like this are common throughout the formation.
This is a map of lower Mount Sharp on Mars, showing the major geologic units identified from orbit. The rocks of the 'Murray Formation,' mapped in green, likely represent the oldest layers of Mount Sharp that NASA's Curiosity rover will explore.
Data from the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity show an unusual enrichment of silicon in the rocks dubbed 'Wildrose' and 'Bonanza King,' relative to other rocks studied at Gale Crater on Mars.
The 'Bonanza King' rock on Mars, pictured here, was tapped by the drill belonging to NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. The tapping resulted in sand piling up on the rock after drilling, showing the rock was not firmly in place.
The route of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover up the slopes of Mount Sharp on Mars is indicated in yellow in this image. The rover's current position is marked with a star. This new route provides excellent access to many features in the 'Murray Formation.'
This topography map shows a portion of the Gale Crater region on Mars, where NASA's Mars Curiosity rover landed on August 6, 2014. The rover (marked with a star) is currently headed toward 'Pahrump Hills.'
Candidate Drilling Target on Mars Doesn't Pass Exam
This image from the front Hazcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the rover's drill in place during a test of whether the rock beneath it, 'Bonanza King,' would be an acceptable target for drilling to collect a sample.
Curiosity's Brushwork on Martian 'Bonanza King' Target
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the Dust Removal Tool on its robotic arm to brush aside reddish, more-oxidized dust, revealing a gray patch of less-oxidized rock material at a target called 'Bonanza King,' visible from the rover's Mastcam.
This Aug. 12, 2012, image from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows an outcrop that includes the 'Bonanza King' rock under consideration as a drilling target. Raised ridges on the flat rocks are visible at right.
This image, taken on Aug. 4, 2014, from the Navigation Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows wheel tracks printed by the rover as it drove on the sandy floor of a lowland called 'Hidden Valley' on the route toward Mount Sharp.