A slippery slope threw NASA’s Curiosity Rover off the beaten path, forcing the little guy on a detour full of new potential adventures and discoveries.
The rover has now embarked on a mission to investigate a geological boundary. It has already climbed up a hill to reach a comparable site where two distinctive types of bedrock meet.
Curiosity has previously examined pale rock that can be found on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, so now, it’s only natural that the scents want it to get a gook look darker rock too.
The initial target site was farther south. It was picked out two (2) weeks ago but had to be abandoned when Curiosity Rover’s trajectory was disrupted by a Martian slippery sand slope.
It all serves as a good cause of how traitorous environmental conditions on the Red Planet can truly be. As Chris Roumeliotis, Curiosity’s lead rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says in a statement: “Mars can be very deceptive. Researchers knew that polygonal sand ripples have caused Curiosity a lot of drive slip in the past, but there appeared to be terrain with rockier, more consolidated characteristics directly adjacent to these ripples”.
He goes on to explain that researchers drove around the sand ripples onto what they believed to be firm terrain that would give Curiosity better traction. That was not the case however. This terrain turned out to be unconsolidated material too, which definitely surprised scientists and Curiosity.
NASA scientists had to settle for a different path that they’ve mapped out using images captured by Curiosity and by NASA’s own Mars Reconnaissance Orbit, which has been circling the Mars since 2006. This second road also allows them to examine similar objects and materials.
Curiosity was heading from the base of ‘Jocko Butte’ to the ‘Logan Pass’ area when it was sent off of its first trajectory, but turned around soon after leaving. Chris Roumeliotis decided to talk with his team of scientists and identify alternate routes. One of the team’s main concerns was how much time to spend reaching a particular target, when there are many others out there.
The Curiosity Rover’s mission is to determine once and for all if Mars could ever have supported microbial life forms. Scientists have already shared that the area near where Curiosity landed was a habitable lake-and-stream system billions of years ago, leaving the rover to mostly collect information on how the red planet’s climate and surface conditions have changed over the years, and whether or not it could be a source for methane.
In other Martian news, NASA’s Curiosity Rover has become so beloved by space enthusiasts that a man in Russia, Sergey Grishchenko, made his own 3D printed replica of it. He built it for fun, without a specific goal in mind. He says that it can pour drinks or simply be a telepresence robot.
Image Source: nasa.gov