Astronomy & Space

Curiosity captures attractive panorama on slopes of Mount Sharp – Astronomy Now

February 13, 2019 • By
A small a part of a 360-degree panorama displaying the Curiosity Mars rover’s perch on the lower slopes of Mount Sharpe. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

You can’t stand on Mars – however – nonetheless you probably can in any case get a manner of what it would seem like, due to NASA’s Curiosity rover now exploring the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, a 5.5-kilometre (18,000-foot) tall mound of layered rocks on the center of Gale Crater. The rover simply currently wrapped up a year-long maintain atop Vera Rubin Ridge and is now specializing in a close-by trough, nicknamed Glen Torridon, the place Mars orbiters have seen phyllosilicates, clay minerals that long-established in water.

“In addition to indicating a previously wet environment, clay minerals are known to trap and preserve organic molecules,” talked about Curiosity Enterprise Scientist Ashwin Vasavada at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “That makes this area especially promising, and the team is already surveying the area for its next drill site.”

Sooner than it departed Vera Rubin Ridge, Curiosity collected 122 pictures with its Mastcam digicam that is likely to be stitched collectively to supply a 360-degree panorama of its surroundings (a 230-megabyte mannequin is obtainable proper right here). The view reveals Glen Torridon and the upper reaches of Mount Sharp, shut by drill holes the place the rover collected sub-surface samples, the bottom of Gale Crater and a portion of its distant wall.

Evan after a 12 months of look at, researchers have not however pieced collectively how Vera Rubin Ridge long-established throughout the first place, resisting erosion as compared with surrounding bedrock.

Curiosity confirmed the ridge is made up of sediments that settled to the underside of an historic lake and confirmed the presence of hematite along with crystals indicative of the presence of water throughout the distant earlier. Nevertheless the symptoms have been current in patches, prompting speculation that flooring water affected some components of the ridge otherwise than others. On excessive of that, hematite signatures found by Curiosity did not primarily match maps based mostly totally on information collected from orbit.

“We’ve had our fair share of surprises,” talked about Curiosity science workers member Abigail Fraeman. “We’re leaving with a different perspective of the ridge than what we had before.”

Curiosity landed on the bottom of Gale Crater in August 2012. About one martian 12 months – 687 Earth days – later, the rover lastly reached the underside of Mount Sharp and began exploring its lower slopes.