Curiosity on the Naukluft Plateau
Curiosity on the Naukluft Plateau
ESP_045293_1755  Science Theme: 
HiRISE periodically acquires images of the two working rovers on Mars, Opportunity (Mars Exploration Rover) and Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory). Although earlier pictures are generally sufficient for mapping the terrain and topography, new images allow scientists and engineers to study rover tracks and their covering with dust over time.

The ability to keep track of the rovers' progress and seeing their current location on Mars in the HiRISE images is of great interest to the public. In the case of Curiosity, new images allow the tracking of active sand dunes currently in the vicinity of the rover. This dune field, informally named the “ Bagnold Dunes” after the pioneering British aeolian scientist Ralph Bagnold (1896-1990), has recently been investigated by Curiosity.

Curiosity is currently located on the Naukluft Plateau just north of the Bagnold Dune field. Its position was captured by HiRISE on 25 March 2016 (MSL Sol 1291. Views from the surface at this location are available here and here.) The rover is within sandstone outcrops informally named the “Stimson Formation.” There are no obvious rover tracks in the HiRISE views indicating that this bedrock contains little dust that otherwise could be disturbed by the rover wheels as has been seen earlier in Curiosity's traverse.

By comparing a portion of this image to an earlier view, we can see subtle changes in the margin of “Namib dune”. These changes result from the wind redistributing sand, including avalanching of the Namib dune slipface, over the bright bedrock. Note that the rover is in front of the dune in the December image (see surface images here).

Unannotated images: Naukluft Plateau and Bagnold dune field
Curiosity in the Stimson Formation

Written by: Nathan Bridges (audio: Tre Gibbs)  (22 June 2016)
Acquisition date
25 March 2016

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
266.3 km (165.5 miles)

Original image scale range
29.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~87 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
51°, with the Sun about 39° above the horizon

Solar longitude
127.7°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  96°
Sub-solar azimuth:  37.9°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (866MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (514MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (459MB)
non-map           (382MB)

IRB color
map projected  (161MB)
non-map           (336MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (220MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (212MB)

RGB color
non map           (345MB)

B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
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.