What simply occurred? NASA has shared photographs just lately captured by Curiosity because the rover travels from a clay-rich area on Mars to at least one primarily comprised of a salty mineral often called sulfate. The house company selected these two areas in hopes of studying extra concerning the planet’s watery previous however because it seems, the transition space between them is proving to be fairly enlightening.
The photograph above is a mosaic comprised of six photographs captured by Curiosity’s mast digicam on June 2, 2022. It is believed that the flaky rock layers depicted within the photograph shaped in an historic pond or streambed.
Curiosity has been making its method up the foothills of a three-mile-high mountain often called Mount Sharp since 2014. At the bottom is the clay-rich space, which seemingly was as soon as dwelling to flowing streams and lakes. Higher up within the transition zone, observations counsel the streams dissipated into trickles. Eventually, sand dunes shaped above the lake sediments.
“We now not see the lake deposits that we noticed for years decrease on Mount Sharp,” mentioned Ashwin Vasavada, a Curiosity undertaking scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Instead, we see a number of proof of drier climates, like dry dunes that sometimes had streams working round them. That’s an enormous change from the lakes that endured for maybe thousands and thousands of years earlier than.”
NASA mentioned the rover will quickly drill its ultimate pattern within the transition area to get a greater take a look at the altering mineral composition of the rocks.
Curiosity touched down on Mars method again in August 2012 and has been learning the Red Planet’s local weather and geology ever since. Unsurprisingly, the rover is beginning to present indicators of damage after practically a decade of operation. One of its aluminum wheels has misplaced a number of of its treads, however that does not appear to be a serious concern.
“We have confirmed via floor testing that we are able to safely drive on the wheel rims if crucial,” mentioned Megan Lin, Curiosity’s undertaking supervisor at JPL.