This set of images shows a modern terrestrial analog to the "Yellowknife Bay" area that NASA's Curiosity rover is exploring. At left is a sampling pit exposing clay-bearing lake sediments, deposited in a basaltic basin in southern Australia. At right is a core sample from the lakebed, showing clay-rich, layered sediments. Different layers correspond to changing mineral compositions, a reflection of changing lake chemistry and environmental conditions over geologic time. The felt-tip pen is included for scale.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built Curiosity and CheMin.
For more information about Curiosity and its mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.