The rover Curiosity landed on August 6, 2012, near the base of Aeolis Mons.
|Location||Gale crater on Mars|
|Peak||Aeolis Mons – 5.5 km (18,000 ft) high|
|Discoverer||NASA in the 1970s|
|Eponym||Aeolis Mons – Aeolis albedo feature
Mount Sharp – Robert P. Sharp (1911–2004)
Mount Sharp, officially Aeolis Mons (IPA: [ˈiːəlɨs ˈmɒnz]), is a mountain on Mars. It forms the central peak within Gale crater and is located around , rising 5.5 km (18,000 ft) high from the valley floor. It has the ID of 15,000 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature from the US Geological Survey.
On August 6, 2012, Curiosity (the Mars Science Laboratory rover) landed in "Yellowknife" Quad 51 of Aeolis Palus, next to the mountain. NASA named the landing site Bradbury Landing on August 22, 2012. Aeolis Mons is a primary goal for scientific study. On June 5, 2013, NASA announced that Curiosity would begin an 8 km (5.0 mi) journey from the Glenelg area to the base of Aeolis Mons. On November 13, 2013, NASA announced that an entryway Curiosity would traverse on its way to Aeolis Mons was to be named "Murray Buttes", in honor of planetary scientist Bruce C. Murray (1931–2013). The trip was expected to take about a year and would include stops along the way to study the local terrain.
The mountain appears to be an enormous mound of eroded sedimentary layers sitting on the central peak of Gale. It rises 5.5 km (18,000 ft) above the northern crater floor and 4.5 km (15,000 ft) above the southern crater floor, higher than the southern crater rim. The sediments may have been laid down over an interval of 2 billion years, and may have once completely filled the crater. Some of the lower sediment layers may have originally been deposited on a lake bed, while observations of possibly cross-bedded strata in the upper mound suggest aeolian processes. However, this issue is debated, and the origin of the lower layers remains unclear. If katabatic wind deposition played the predominant role in the emplacement of the sediments, as suggested by reported 3 degree radial slopes of the mound's layers, erosion would have come into play largely to place an upper limit on the mound's growth.
On December 8, 2014, a panel of NASA scientists discussed (archive 62:03) the latest observations of Curiosity about how water may have helped shape the landscape of Mars, including Aeolis Mons, and had a climate long ago that could have produced long-lasting lakes at many Martian locations.
Aeolis Mons is 5.5 km (18,000 ft) high, about the same height as Mons Huygens, the tallest lunar mountain, and taller than Mons Hadley visited by Apollo 15. The tallest mountain known in the Solar System is in Rheasilvia crater on the asteroid Vesta, which contains a central mound that rises 22 km (14 mi; 72,000 ft) high; Olympus Mons on Mars is nearly the same height, at 21.9 km (13.6 mi; 72,000 ft) high.
In comparison, Mount Everest rises to 8.8 km (29,000 ft) altitude above sea level (asl), but is only 4.6 km (15,000 ft) (base-to-peak) (btp). Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro is about 5.9 km (19,000 ft) altitude above sea level to the Uhuru peak; also 4.6 km base-to-peak. America's Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, has a base-to-peak of 5.5 km (18,000 ft). The Franco-Italian Mont Blanc/Monte Bianco is 4.8 km (16,000 ft) in altitude above sea level, Mount Fuji, which overlooks Tokyo, Japan, is about 3.8 km (12,000 ft) altitude. Compared to the Andes, Aeolis Mons would rank outside the hundred tallest peaks, being roughly the same height as Argentina's Cerro Pajonal; the peak is higher than any above sea level in Oceania, but base-to peak it is considerably shorter than Hawaii's Mauna Kea and its neighbors.
Discovered in the 1970s, the mountain remained nameless for perhaps 40 years. When it became a likely landing site, it was given various labels; for example, in 2010 a NASA photo caption called it "Gale crater mound". In March 2012, NASA unofficially named it "Mount Sharp", for American geologist Robert P. Sharp.
The International Astronomical Union, which is responsible for planetary nomenclature for its participants, names large Martian mountains after the Classical albedo feature in which it is located, not for people. In May 2012 the IAU thus named the mountain Aeolis Mons, and gave the name Aeolis Palus to the crater floor plain between the northern wall of Gale and the northern foothills of the mountain. In recognition of NASA and in honour of Sharp, the IAU gave the name "Robert Sharp" to a large crater (150 km (93 mi) in diameter), located about 260 km (160 mi) west of Gale, following its standard practice of naming large craters after scientists.
NASA and the ESA continue to refer to the mountain as "Mount Sharp" in press conferences and press releases. This is similar to other informal names, such as the Columbia Hills near one of the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites. Sky & Telescope explained the rationales of the two names to their readers in August 2012, and held an informal poll to newsletter readers. Over 2700 voted and picked Aeolis Mons over Mount Sharp by 57% to 43%. The official name, "Aeolis Mons", is recorded by the United States Geological Survey.
On December 16, 2014, NASA reported detecting, based on measurements by the Curiosity rover, an unusual increase, then decrease, in the amounts of methane in the atmosphere of the planet Mars; as well as, detecting Martian organic chemicals in powder drilled from a rock by the Curiosity rover. Also, based on deuterium to hydrogen ratio studies, much of the water at Gale Crater on Mars was found to have been lost during ancient times, before the lakebed in the crater was formed; afterwards, large amounts of water continued to be lost.
On June 1, 2017, NASA reported that the Curiosity rover provided evidence of an ancient lake in Gale crater on Mars that could have been favorable for microbial life; the ancient lake was stratified, with shallows rich in oxidants and depths poor in oxidants; and, the ancient lake provided many different types of microbe-friendly environments at the same time. NASA further reported that the Curiosity rover will continue to explore higher and younger layers of Mount Sharp in order to determine how the lake environment in ancient times on Mars became the drier environment in more modern times.
On August 5, 2017, NASA celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Curiosity rover mission landing, and related exploratory accomplishments, on the planet Mars. (Videos: Curiosity's First Five Years (02:07); Curiosity's POV: Five Years Driving (05:49); Curiosity's Discoveries About Gale Crater (02:54))
|Curiosity at Mount Sharp|
As of November 23, 2017, Curiosity has been on the planet Mars for 1883 sols (1935 total days; 5 years, 109 days) since landing on August 6, 2012. Since September 11, 2014, Curiosity has been exploring the slopes of Mount Sharp, where more information about the history of Mars is expected to be found. As of late August 2017, the rover has traveled over 17.21 km (10.69 mi) and climbed over 165 m (541 ft) in elevation to, and around, the mountain base since landing at "Bradbury Landing" in August 2012.
|Curiosity at Mount Sharp|
(MRO; HiRISE; December 13, 2014).
Traverse map - route from Landing to slopes on Aeolis Mons (September 11, 2014).
"Murray Buttes" knobs - Aeolis Mons slopes (November 13, 2013).
"Pahrump Hills" sand - viewed by Curiosity (November 13, 2014).
"Pahrump Hills" sand - Curiosity's tracks (November 7, 2014).
"Pahrump Hills" bedrock on Mars - viewed by Curiosity (November 9, 2014).
"Pink Cliffs" rock outcrop on Mars - viewed by Curiosity (October 7, 2014).
"Alexander Hills" bedrock on Mars - viewed by Curiosity (November 23, 2014).
Aeolis Mons rises from the middle of Gale - Green dot marks Curiosity's landing site in Aeolis Palus.
Gale crater with Curiosity's landing area within Aeolis Palus noted - north is down.
Curiosity's landing site (green dot) - blue dot marks Glenelg Intrigue - blue spot marks the base of Mount Sharp - a planned area of study.
Curiosity's landing site - "Yellowknife" Quad 51 (1-mi-by-1-mi) of Aeolis Palus in Gale.
Comparison of color versions (raw, natural, white balance) of Aeolis Mons (August 23, 2012).
Aeolis Mons as viewed by Curiosity (August 8, 2012) (white balanced image).
Layers at the base of Aeolis Mons - dark rock in inset is same size as Curiosity (white balanced image).
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- Aeolis Mons
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aeolis Mons.|
|Look up Aeolis Mons in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Google Mars scrollable map – centered on Aeolis Mons.
- Aeolis Mons – Curiosity Rover "StreetView" (Sol 2 – 08/08/2012) – NASA/JPL – 360° Panorama
- Aeolis Mons – Curiosity Rover Mission Summary – Video (02:37)
- Aeolis Mons – HiRise (South side of mountain)
- Aeolis Mons – "Mount Sharp" Oblique (19,663px × 1,452px)
- Aeolis Mons – Gale crater – Image/THEMIS VIS 18m/px Mosaic (Zoomable) (small)
- Aeolis Mons – Gale crater – image/HRSCview
- Aeolis Mons – HRSCview (oblique view looking east)
- Aeolis Mons – 7,703px × 2,253px black & white panorama
- Aeolis Mons – Color Panorama by Damien Bouic
- Images – PIA16105 PIA16104 Color view
- Video (01:40) – Mount Sharp (lower slopes) (high-resolution)
- on YouTube
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