The Curiosity rover reached the sulfate-rich Mount Sharp • The Register

The Curiosity rover reached the sulfate-rich Mount Sharp • The Register

NASA’s Curiosity rover has lastly reached the objective it has been chasing since touchdown on the purple planet a decade in the past: a “sulfate-bearing unit” on Mount Sharp.

The area was first noticed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been learning the Gale Crater area of Mars since 2006. NASA designated the realm for research due to its excessive focus of salty minerals, indicating that it was as soon as lined by water.

“Shortly after arrival, the rover found a wide range of rock sorts and indicators of previous water.” — NASA stated. Indicators included “popcorn-textured nodules” and minerals together with magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), calcium sulfate (gypsum), and sodium chloride (desk salt).

Curiosity Discovers Minerals By Drilling By means of NASA’s Rock Named ‘Canaima’ within the sulfate-bearing unit, which NASA says initially gave them hassle because of issues that it was too heavy. Attempting to interrupt it off may have additional broken the rover’s arm because of worn brakes after taking 35 preliminary drill samples, although the workforce stated it turned out to be simpler to crush than they initially thought.


Curiosity drilling is completed in Canaima

An extended street

Curiosity has had its sights set on Mount Sharp since touchdown on Mars in 2012. The three-mile (5 km) mountain appeared in Curiosity’s photographs from the floor of Mars for a few yearsand in 2020 NASA started overlaying the rover’s journey up the mountain to the sulfate website.

By June, Curiosity was get nearer, however nonetheless needed to undergo the slim “Paraitepuy Move”, the place its pilots needed to face hills that periodically blocked Curiosity’s sign to the orbiting satellites. Curiosity handed the go unscathed, and with a set of photographs that Curiosity’s director of science operations known as spectacular.

“The sand dunes have been wonderful,” Elena Amador-French stated. “You possibly can see excellent little rover marks on them. And the rocks have been lovely – we received actually near the partitions.”


Paraitepuy Move, a treacherous area that Curiosity needed to navigate just lately

NASA hopes that its analysis within the sulfate-rich gadget will present extra clues about how Mars dried up into the barren wasteland we now know. Earlier this yr, the corporate Curios discovered proof of this life that produces methane may have existed on Marsand within the meantime, simulations of the Martian surroundings may present a speculation that Curiosity can at the very least contribute to fixing.

Analysis led by the College of Arizona just lately found that the Martian surroundings might have been so completely different from Earth’s that formative years—particularly methane-emitting life—may have cooled the planet, eradicating an excessive amount of hydrogen, thinning the ambiance and inflicting Mars to change into the inhospitable world we all know at present.

NASA plans to spend the following few years exploring the sulfate-rich space, and has already accomplished so new analysis objectives in thoughts for Curiosity’s subsequent stops. ®

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