Observations at large scales, such as panoramas of Martian landscapes, help researchers identify smaller-scale features of special interest for examination in more detail. Those smaller-scale observations may in turn reveal even finer-scale features for close-up examination. This concept of nested scales is illustrated here with images from the right Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity that show the lower stratigraphy at "Yellowknife Bay" inside Gale Crater on Mars. These images were taken during the 137th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Dec. 24, 2012). The image at right covers an area about one foot (about 30 centimeters) across. The location of that image within the left-side image is indicated by the white box in the image. The white box in the right image indicates a smaller feature of interest that requires even higher spatial resolution.
An unannotated version of this image is available at PIA16569.
NASA's Mars 2020 rover, as described by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, would have capabilities for nested-scale observations down to microscopic scale. Mars 2020 is a mission concept that NASA announced in late 2012 to re-use the basic engineering of Mars Science Laboratory to send a different rover to Mars, with new objectives and instruments, launching in 2020.
Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Mastcam. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Mars Science Laboratory mission and the mission's Curiosity rover for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
For more about NASA's Curiosity mission, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl, http://www.nasa.gov/mars, and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl.