Donnerstag, Juni 23, 2022
StartAstrophysicsCuriosity captures beautiful views of a altering Mars panorama

Curiosity captures beautiful views of a altering Mars panorama


Curiosity captures stunning views of a changing Mars landscape
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured this view of layered, flaky rocks believed to have shaped in an historic streambed or small pond. The six pictures that make up this mosaic had been captured utilizing Curiosity’s Mast Digicam, or Mastcam, on June 2, 2022, the three,492nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

For the previous yr, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has been touring by means of a transition zone from a clay-rich area to at least one stuffed with a salty mineral referred to as sulfate. Whereas the science workforce focused the clay-rich area and the sulfate-laden one for proof every can supply about Mars‘ watery previous, the transition zone is proving to be scientifically fascinating as effectively. In truth, this transition might present the file of a significant shift in Mars‘ local weather billions of years in the past that scientists are simply starting to grasp.

The shaped when lakes and streams as soon as rippled throughout Gale Crater, depositing sediment at what’s now the bottom of Mount Sharp, the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain whose foothills Curiosity has been ascending since 2014. Greater on the mountain within the , Curiosity’s observations present that the streams dried into trickles and shaped above the .

„We not see the lake deposits that we noticed for years decrease on Mount Sharp,“ mentioned Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s mission scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. „As an alternative, we see a lot of proof of drier climates, like dry dunes that sometimes had streams operating round them. That is a giant change from the lakes that continued for maybe tens of millions of years earlier than.“

Because the rover climbs greater by means of the transition zone, it’s detecting much less clay and extra sulfate. Curiosity will quickly drill the final rock pattern it can take on this zone, offering a extra detailed glimpse into the altering mineral composition of those rocks.






Distinctive geologic options additionally stand out on this zone. The hills within the space probably started in a dry setting of huge, wind-swept sand dunes, hardening into rock over time. Interspersed within the stays of those dunes are different sediments carried by water, maybe deposited in ponds or small streams that when wove among the many dunes. These sediments now seem as erosion-resistant stacks of flaky layers, like one nicknamed „The Prow.“

Making the story richer but extra difficult is the information that there have been a number of intervals during which groundwater ebbed and flowed over time, leaving a jumble of puzzle items for Curiosity’s scientists to assemble into an correct timeline.

Ten Years On, Going Robust

Curiosity will have fun its tenth yr on Mars Aug. 5. Whereas the rover is exhibiting its age after a full decade of exploring, nothing has prevented it from persevering with its ascent.

Curiosity captures stunning views of a changing Mars landscape
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured this 360-degree panorama close to a location nicknamed Sierra Maigualida on Might 22, 2022. The panorama is made up of 133 particular person pictures captured by Curiosity’s Mast Digicam, or Mastcam. Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

On June 7, Curiosity went into after detecting a temperature studying on an instrument management field inside the physique of the rover that was hotter than anticipated. Secure mode happens when a spacecraft senses a difficulty and robotically shuts down all however its most important capabilities in order that engineers can assess the state of affairs.

Though Curiosity exited protected mode and returned to regular operations two days later, JPL’s engineers are nonetheless analyzing the precise reason for the problem. They believe protected mode was triggered after a offered an inaccurate measurement, and there is not any signal it can considerably have an effect on rover operations since backup temperature sensors can make sure the electronics inside the rover physique do not get too sizzling.

The rover’s aluminum wheels are additionally exhibiting indicators of wear and tear. On June 4, the engineering workforce commanded Curiosity to take new footage of its wheels—one thing it had been doing each 3,281 toes (1,000 meters) to examine their general well being.

The workforce found that the left center wheel had broken one in every of its grousers, the zig-zagging treads alongside Curiosity’s wheels. This explicit wheel already had 4 damaged grousers, so now 5 of its 19 grousers are damaged.

Curiosity captures stunning views of a changing Mars landscape
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured proof of layers that constructed up as windblown sand each accrued and was scoured away at a location nicknamed “Las Claritas.” This picture was captured utilizing Curiosity’s Mast Digicam, or Mastcam, on Might 19, 2022, the three,478th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The beforehand broken grousers attracted consideration on-line not too long ago as a result of a few of the metallic „pores and skin“ between them seems to have fallen out of the wheel previously few months, leaving a niche.

The workforce has determined to extend its wheel imaging to each 1,640 toes (500 meters)—a return to the unique cadence. A traction management algorithm had slowed wheel put on sufficient to justify growing the space between imaging.

„We now have confirmed by means of floor testing that we are able to safely drive on the wheel rims if needed,“ mentioned Megan Lin, Curiosity’s mission supervisor at JPL. „If we ever reached the purpose {that a} single wheel had damaged a majority of its grousers, we might do a managed break to shed the items which might be left. As a result of latest developments, it appears unlikely that we would wish to take such motion. The wheels are holding up effectively, offering the traction we have to proceed our climb.“


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Curiosity captures beautiful views of a altering Mars panorama (2022, June 22)
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