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NASA’s inquisitiveness rover has lastly reached at its pledged land: the base of Mt. Sharp, the 3-mile-high mound in the middle of Gale Crater, after wandering in the Martian desert for about 25 months.
The onset marks the start of the Mars Science Laboratory rover’s original mission: to read the mountain’s clay-rich lower layers like pages in a history book, pages that could expose signs of life-affable environments on the Red Planet.
A project scientist and Caltech geologist John Grotzinger said, “We have finally arrived at the far frontier that we have sought for so long.”
Receiving to Mt. Sharp has been a long-time pending. Certainly, the trip was delayed in part by a diversion the rover took to seem at a hopeful spot named Yellowknife Bay. Although it charge the team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on half a year, the venture paid off; rocks drilled there exposed a smorgasbord of chemical elements that would have been appropriate for microbial life, if it ever survived.
Grotzinger stated, Now that the scientists know livable environments did survive on the Red Planet, part of the next step will be seeking those fastidious environments that have a most probability of protecting organic molecules.
The rover is finishing in on a spot called as Pahrump Hills, a projection that wasn’t on the real itinerary, a pleased result of the detour snooping took to keep away from sharp rocks that had been causing an shocking quantity of smash up on the rover’s thin wheels. However, this spot will now be the gateway to Mt. Sharp, and it possibly holds Curiosity’s foremost official drilling target. The rover would make it there in the next week or two, Grotzinger said.
Scientists are principally involved in an extension of rock named as the Murray Formation. It will cross en route to its actual stopping point, Murray Buttes. The Murray Formation could give an exceptional wealth of information about the history of habitable environments on Mars, Kathryn Stack, Curiosity rover mission scientist pointed. Nevertheless, the Yellowknife Bay formation where Curiosity found its first life-friendly spot was only 5-meters thick which represents possibly thousands to hundreds of thousands of years of sedimentary deposits. In contrast, The Murray Formation is 200 meters thick.
Stack stated, “We potentially have millions to tens of millions of years of Martian history just waiting for us to explore.”
The hard part would be to decide how much time to allocate to Pahrump Hills, Murray Buttes and the next interesting unit up the slopes, called Hematite Ridge, scientists said. He was mainly interested in the silicon in the upcoming rocks as the element’s distribution can often signal the movement of water, Grotzinger said.
The mission officials also reacted to disapproval from a NASA Planetary Senior Review panel report out this summer. According to the report, the plan to explore Mt. Sharp did not make good use of the rover’s instruments, calling it “a poor science return for such a large investment in a flagship mission.”