|This stunning landscape, taken by the Curiosity Mars rover, shows the rim of Gale Crater visible in the distance, through the dusty haze in this view of a sloping hillside on Mount Sharp|
|NASA says the Martian buttes and mesas rising above the surface are eroded remnants of ancient sandstone that originated when winds deposited sand after lower Mount Sharp had formed. |
|Layered rock on Mars pictured by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, which has been on the Red Planet since August 2012|
These images reveal in stunning detail the hills, plateaus and rock faces of the Red Planet.
Taken by the mast camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and released today, the stunning pictures are from the 'Murray Buttes' region on our neighbouring planet.
Likening the scenes to areas of the US desert, Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, said: 'Curiosity's science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars.'
The rover team plans to assemble several large, color mosaics from images taken in the area, where the rover has spent the last month. The buttes and mesas were formed from eroded remnants of ancient sandstone, which originated when winds deposited sand after Martian mountain lower Mount Sharp was formed.
Vasavada said: 'Studying these buttes up close has given us a better understanding of ancient sand dunes that formed and were buried, chemically changed by groundwater, exhumed and eroded to form the landscape that we see today.' Curiosity, which landed near Mount Sharp back in 2012, is set to continue its mission further south and higher up the mountain.
It has already discovered evidence that ancient lakes on the Red Planet offered conditions that would have been favorable for microbes if Mars has ever hosted life.