NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Reroutes Away From ‘Gator-Again’ Rocks

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It additionally sits close by the Gediz Vallis Ridge, which can have been created as particles flowed down the mountain. Curiosity will all the time stay within the decrease foothills of Mount Sharp, the place there’s proof of historic water and environments that will have been liveable prior to now. Driving throughout a couple of mile (1.5 kilometers) of the pediment to collect pictures of Gediz Vallis Ridge would have been a option to examine materials from the mountain’s uppermost reaches.

“From a distance, we can see car-sized boulders that were transported down from higher levels of Mount Sharp – maybe by water relatively late in Mars’ wet era,” mentioned Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s challenge scientist at JPL. “We don’t really know what they are, so we wanted to see them up close.”

The Road Less Traveled

Over the subsequent couple weeks, Curiosity will climb down from the pediment to a spot it had beforehand been exploring: a transition zone between a clay-rich space and one with bigger quantities of salt minerals known as sulfates. The clay minerals shaped when the mountain was wetter, dappled with streams and ponds; the salts could have shaped as Mars’ local weather dried out over time.

“It was really cool to see rocks that preserved a time when lakes were drying up and being replaced by streams and dry sand dunes,” mentioned Abigail Fraeman, Curiosity’s deputy challenge scientist at JPL. “I’m really curious to see what we find as we continue to climb on this alternate route.”

Curiosity’s wheels will probably be on safer floor because it leaves the gator-back terrain behind, however engineers are targeted on different indicators of wear and tear on the rover’s robotic arm, which carries its rock drill. Braking mechanisms on two of the arm’s joints have stopped working prior to now 12 months. However, every joint has redundant elements to make sure the arm can preserve drilling rock samples. The crew is finding out the very best methods to make use of the arm to make sure these redundant elements preserve working so long as potential.

For extra details about Curiosity, go to:

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/home/


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