Gale Crater on Mars, colored by elevation. On August 6th, NASA’s Curiosity Rover will land on the lowest surface of Gale Crater with the most complex landing system ever created. The rover will explore the four billion year old crater and Aeolis Mons, the 5.5 kilometer tall mountain at its center. The mountain is the remnant of sediments deposited in the crater for two billion years after its formation. The composition of its layers should contain a detailed record of the climate of the red planet, and indicate if it was ever a suitable habitat for life.
“The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.”
This image shows a map of our galaxy, created with the Digital Universe Atlas. The Sun is at the center of the blue sphere in the lower right. The sphere has a radius of 60 light years, it represents the most distant radio signals produced by the human species. The small blue circles represent nearby exoplanets. The blue triangles are planetary nebulae, and the orange heptagons are supernova remnants. The background image of the galactic core is a combination of the 2MASS survey and visual light observations.