MSL Picture of the Day: T+7 Days: Yellowknife

MSL Picture of the Day: T+7 Days: Yellowknife

Yellowknife panorama

I bet you are all enjoying the images that come out of all the Malin cameras on Curiosity as much as I am. It gives me a feeling of being so close to where she is. So close, I can almost touch Mars. Almost, but not quite. Still, images of Yellowknife are very reall, very much like the dusty red deserts on Earth that I have walked myself, contributing to my sense of being truly there.
Yellowknife is the name of the landingsite of Curiosity.

Curiosity’s landing area named Yellowknife: Curiosity’s landing site, Quad 51, has been named Yellowknife, after a geologically significant area in Canada

This time the scientist overlayed a grid on the landing ellips and named each square in the grid before the rover had landed on Mars. The scientist had divided the area up into about one-mile by one-mile quads, or squares. Curiosity just happened to land in this square (quad 51) in the grid, named Yellowknife.

Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories in Canada,  on Earth is a geolocicalla interesting site.
Yellowknife is on the  Canadian Shield, which was scoured down to rock during the last ice age, resulting in exposure of 4,000 million year (4 billion) old rocks.
These rocks are considered the oldest rocks on Earth as the rest of the landscape on Earth has been changing constantly due to plate tectonics. 
Bedrock like found there tells us the history of our own planet and this is what we are looking for on Mars : rocks to tell us its geological history. Yellowknife seems like the appropriate name for Curiosity’s place on Mars, even if she came to rest on this spot in Mars by accident of tailwinds (among other things) drifting her 2,250 meters (1.5 miles) down wind.
On Earth Yellowknife,  located 375 kilometers (250 miles) south of the Arctic Circle,  was named for a local tribe of Indians who made yellow knives out of copper. During a gold rush in the mid-1930s the town was settled. Uranium and even diamonds have been mined in the region. For geologists and arctic explorers, the mining town always has been a jumping off point for mapping and excavation missions. Likewise on Mars Yellowknife will now be the place from where Curiosity will start her geological exploration.

The panoramic image of Yellowknife surrounding Curiosity is the first of the hopefully many she will send us from Mars. Like postcards send home : ‘I am here, and I am well and enjoying myself’
I can hardly wait until she sends more.

The panoramic image directly below shows the image as put on the web by NASA / JPL

The image below shows a cut out of the panoramic image, showing Mars without any of the black borders, making you feel more like standing there with Curiosity



All images credit NASA / JPL

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