The NASA Mars rover Curiosity may be spending most of its time looking down on the surface of Planet Mars while searching for signs of life and exploring areas where humans can possibly survive, but at times when it does look up it usually captures something fantastic. 

In a recent photo shared by the U.S. space agency, the Curiosity rover was able to capture a beautiful yet rather eerie vista of the majestic Mount Sharp on Planet Mars. The stunning vista perfectly captured the planet’s desolate landscape and gave us an interesting closeup of Martian rocks and sand that make up most of the planet. 

According to a report from CNET, Mount Sharp is the central peak found within the region of the Gale Crater, the main area where the Curiosity is conducting its planetary mission. It reaches a height of 5.5 kilometers above the crater’s surface. The original photo is described as “ghostly” because NASA intentionally showed it without being processed to showcase the planet’s unique reddish atmosphere. 

"We have arguably one of the best backdrops we have ever had during a drill campaign," Mariah Baker, a planetary geologist at Johns Hopkins University and member of the Curiosity team conducting the mission, said

At the time the photo was taken, Curiosity was exploring an area named “Visionarium,” which was described in the report as an area that’s rich in interesting rock layers and textures. Currently, the Curiosity team is actually on the lookout for a good area to drill, so they can continue studying rock and soil samples from what’s believed to be the most possible place to find organic compound on the planet. 

The Curiosity rover has been successfully sending out data to Earth from the Red Planet since 2012. The car-sized rover was built to explore the Gale crater and has approximately covered 13 miles of Martian surface. The rover was expected to explore Planet Mars for only two years but it continues to work up to now. 

The rover has been known for some exciting discoveries, including the sudden spike of methane gas that was recorded recently. Methane gas is a known byproduct of microbes called methanogens, which survive in rocks found deep underground in Earth and even in digestive tracts of animals. 

The discovery led scientists to believe that there’s still a possibility that life is surviving on the Red Planet. The methane gas, however, has since dissipated from the Martian atmosphere.