Curiosity beamed back a beautiful image of the mountainous range Mount Sharp, the rover’s ultimate research destination.
While it is slowly making its way up the mountain, Curiosity is making some stops along the way to collect samples, analyze them and snap some photos such as this one, that are simply breath-taking. NASA’s rover reached Mount Sharp since September last year. Yet, it’s a long winding way up the 3.4 miles high mountainous range, and a load of patches brimming with clues on any scientific discovery from microbial life to water on Mars, to the red planet’s geology, structure and morphology.
The image was snapped on September 9th, although the U.S. space agency released only some days ago, on October 2nd. Beyond being simply beautiful the image of the mountainous range Mount Sharp also allows us to see where Curiosity will be heading to in the future.
With the help of NASA scientists, we now know what Curiosity is after as well. On October 2nd, Ashwin Vasavada, the project scientists with Curiosity at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated:
“The only thing more stunning than these images is the thought that Curiosity will be driving through those lower hills one day. We couldn’t help but send a postcard back to all those following the journey”.
The Mount Sharp image shows everything you need to know about Curiosity’s next steps. 2 miles from where the image was taken, there is a ridge that scientists with the mission have established is rich in hematite. Over the ridge, clay minerals are embedded in the hills. The buttes beyond are brimming with sulfate minerals. All of these findings, apparently so close within the rover’s reach indicate that water was present on Mars in the early stages of the planet’s formation.
In the years ahead Curiosity will keep exploring these areas and collect samples for analysis. The cliffs in the background should be a much newer formation, according to NASA scientists.
Currently Curiosity rover is traversing a sandstone portion of Mount Sharp, coined the Stimson Unit.
A little over three years ago Curiosity had landed in the Gale Crater. Its mission to find clues of microbial life has turned into a widely acknowledge scientific mission and one of the most recognizable.
Photo Credits: Gizmodo