During the month of April Mars will be in conjunction relative to the Earth. This means the Sun is in the line-of-sight between Earth and Mars, and communication between the two planets is almost impossible. For conjunction, the rovers and orbiting spacecraft at Mars continue to operate, but do not send the data to Earth. This recorded data will be sent to Earth when Mars moves away from the sun and the line-of-sight between Earth and Mars is reestablished. During conjunction the THEMIS image of the day will be a visual tour of Gale Crater, the location of the newest rover Curiosity.
Today's image shows almost the same region as the previous image - showing the major channel that started near the top of Mt. Sharp. Near the top of this image is a wide valley that reaches to the crater floor and the nearby dunes. It is this valley that has been chosen as a possible route for Curiosity to use for driving onto Mt. Sharp.
Orbit Number: 35551 Latitude: -5.16407 Longitude: 137.394 Instrument: VIS Captured: 2009-12-19 13:02
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University
Note: This is the eighteenth in a series of images in which the THEMIS team is currently showing the central region of Gale Crater, starting at the eastern rim and moving past Mount Sharp to the western rim. Starting with image #9, the images are being shown from east to west. All of the images in this series I will name "Gale Crater (XXXX) #Y", in which XXXX is the year in which the photo was actually taken, and Y is the sequence number (1 through...).