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Mars at dawn: This NASA Curiosity rover image will enchant your heart

CNET logo CNET 2/12/2019 Amanda Kooser
a field with a mountain in the background: The sun rises over Gale Crater on Mars in this NASA Curiosity rover image. © NASA/JPL-Caltech

The sun rises over Gale Crater on Mars in this NASA Curiosity rover image.

Mars is barren and dry. Earth is luxuriating in water. Sometimes these two very different planets find common ground under the light of the same sun. NASA's Curiosity rover just captured one of those moments in a stirring new image showing dawn breaking across Gale Crater.

NASA's Doug Ellison brought our attention to the picture when he shared it to Twitter on Saturday. "One of the nicest images I have had the fortune of being asked to take," he wrote.

Ellison describes himself on Twitter as a "Mars photographer." "I work with the science team and the rover drivers to make sure I'm pointing the cameras the right way," he said in a NASA profile about his work on the Curiosity team.

Curiosity snapped the view on Saturday with its right navigation camera. It shows the sun shining into the edge of the frame, just barely illuminating the dramatic landscape around the rover.

What's so striking about this image is how familiar it looks. If someone showed me this photograph and said it was taken somewhere in New Mexico, I would have said, "Oh cool! Where?"

Gale Crater is Curiosity's home away from home, a fascinating landscape where the rover has bluffs, outcrops, hills and the towering figure of Mount Sharp in sight. Curiosity has been exploring this world since it landed in 2012.

Us humans have been known to get attached to our planet-exploring machines. This latest view is a reminder that the distance between us is just a number. We still share the same sun.

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