Curiosity's Next Mission Looms Large in New Mars Panorama

NASA's Curiosity Rover spent 8 months traveling over 300-million miles to get to Mars. It spent another year getting its bearings, making several major discoveries along the way. Now it has its sights set on 18,000-foot Mount Sharp, its primary scientific target, which features prominently in this recently released panorama.

Via JPL:

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has reached an area where orbital images had piqued researchers' interest in patches of ground with striations all oriented in a similar direction.

A close-up look at some of the striations from the rover's Navigation Camera gains extra drama by including Mount Sharp in the background. The lower slopes of that layered mountain are the mission's long-term science destination.

The foreground rocks are in an outcrop called "Junda," which the rover passed during a drive of 328 feet (100 meters) on Feb. 19. It paused during the drive to take the component images of the scene, then finished the day's drive. A location still ahead, called "Kimberley," where researchers plan to suspend driving for a period of science investigations, also features ground with striations.

Click here to see the pano in hi-res. More Curiosity's habitability-assessing mission as it develops.