The Mars Curiosity rover took this photo of Mt. Sharp, Mars on Aug. 27. It’s the cover art for the journal Astrobiology, with a note by UC Davis geologist Dawn Sumner, who is working with the Curiosity science team.
You can clearly see layers of sedimentary rock exposed on the hillside. That means water was once here, and lots of it.
This image, shown on the cover, is a turning point for Mars exploration. This is not the Mars of Viking, Pathfinder, Opportunity, Spirit, or Phoenix. Mars is now visibly a planet with dramatic outcrops of sedimentary rock that record a complex geological history. It is a planet with landscapes as spectacular as Earth’s own national parks – places to go for their beauty alone. Mount Sharp is more beautiful than any of us imagined.
…the world has a new view of Mars – one of spectacular, inspiring beauty.