Published On: Thu, Aug 20th, 2015

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finishes ‘Marias Pass’ Studies, Headed to Mount Sharp

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair shows a car during a site from that it reached down to cavalcade into a stone aim called “Buckskin.” The MAHLI camera on Curiosity’s robotic arm took mixed images on Aug 5, 2015, that were stitched together into this selfie. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The Curiosity Mars corsair has finished activities in Marias Pass and is headed leading adult Mount Sharp.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair is pushing toward a southwest after vacating a segment where for several weeks it investigated a geological hit section and rocks that are suddenly high in silica and hydrogen content. The hydrogen indicates H2O firm to minerals in a ground.

In this “Marias Pass” region, Curiosity successfully used a cavalcade to representation a stone aim called “Buckskin” and afterwards used a camera on a robotic arm for mixed images to be stitched into a self-portrait during a drilling site.

The corsair finished activities in Marias Pass on Aug 12 and headed leading adult Mount Sharp, a layered towering it reached in Sep 2014. In drives on Aug 12, 13, 14 and 18, it progressed 433 feet (132 meters), bringing Curiosity’s sum odometry given a Aug 2012 alighting to 6.9 miles (11.1 kilometers).

Curiosity is carrying with it some of a representation powder drilled from Buckskin. The rover’s inner laboratories are examining a material. The mission’s scholarship group members find to know because this area bears rocks with significantly aloft levels of silica and hydrogen than other areas a corsair has traversed.

Silica, monitored with Curiosity’s laser-firing Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, is a rock-forming chemical containing silicon and oxygen, ordinarily found on Earth as quartz. Hydrogen in a belligerent underneath a corsair is monitored by a rover’s Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument. It has been rescued during low levels everywhere Curiosity has driven and is interpreted as a hydrogen in H2O molecules or hydroxyl ions firm within or engrossed onto minerals in a rocks and soil.

“The belligerent about 1 scale underneath a corsair in this area binds 3 or 4 times as most H2O as a belligerent anywhere else Curiosity has driven during a 3 years on Mars,” pronounced DAN Principal Investigator Igor Mitrofanov of Space Research Institute, Moscow. DAN initial rescued a suddenly high turn of hydrogen regulating a pacifist mode. Later, a corsair gathering behind over a area regulating DAN in active mode, in that a instrument shoots neutrons into a belligerent and detects those that rebound off a subsurface, though preferentially interacting with hydrogen. The measurements reliable hydrated element lonesome by a skinny covering of drier material.

Curiosity’s DAN instrument for checking hydration levels in a belligerent underneath a corsair rescued an scarcely high volume during a site nearby “Marias Pass,” call steady passes over a area to map a hydrogen amounts. This map shows color-coded formula from mixed traverses over a area. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Russian Space Research Institute

Curiosity primarily remarkable a area with high silica and hydrogen on May 21 while climbing to a site where dual forms of sedimentary bedrock distortion in hit with any other. Such hit zones can reason clues about ancient changes in environment, from conditions that constructed a comparison stone form to conditions that constructed a younger one. This hit is a captivate that led a corsair group to select Marias Pass as a track toward aloft layers of Mount Sharp. Pale mudstone, like bedrock a goal examined for a initial several months after reaching Mount Sharp during an area called “Pahrump Hills,” forms one side of a contact. The overlying side is darker, finely bedded sandstone.

Curiosity examined a Marias Pass hit section closely with instruments mounted on a pillar and arm. The surprising levels of silica and hydrogen in rocks upheld during a stand stirred a choice to backtrack to inspect that area and acquire a drilled sample.

Buckskin was a initial stone drilled by Curiosity given an electrical circuit in a drill’s percussion resource exhibited a small, transitory brief circuit in Feb during send of representation powder from a third aim drilled in a Pahrump Hills area.

“We were gratified to see no repeat of a brief circuit during a Buckskin drilling and representation transfer,” pronounced Steven Lee, emissary plan manager for Curiosity during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “It could come back, though we have done changes in error insurance to continue safely drilling even in a participation of tiny shorts. We also softened cavalcade percuss circuit telemetry to benefit some-more justification information from any destiny occurrences.”

Curiosity reached a bottom of Mount Sharp after dual years of fruitfully questioning outcrops closer to a alighting site and movement to a mountain. The categorical goal design now is to inspect layers of reduce Mount Sharp for ancient habitable environments and justification about how early Mars environments developed from wetter to drier conditions.

Source: Guy Webster, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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