Science

Curiosity shares its solitude on Mars via postcards

Curiosity, along with Opportunity was sent to mars as an exploration rover in 2012. It landed in the Gale Crater, which it calls home now. Even after Opportunity stopped responding, Curiosity has continued its research. It is climbing slowly but steadily at a speed of approximately 0.14 km/h. It plans on reaching the eroded summit called the Central Butte. The Mars rover is studying the layers of rocks worn out by weather over millennia. These layers are located at the base of a mountain named Sharp, situated in the center of Gale Crater. Recently, the lonely Mars rover sent fresh images of the crater that were featured in postcards.

The image in the postcards was taken by the Mars rover’s right navigation camera B on Sol 2573, i.e., November 1. The photograph shows a picturesque Martian horizon along with a crystal clear ground (rock formations). In the focus of the picture, the central butte slowly climbs towards Mount Sharp. At the horizon, the Gale crater’s rim can be seen, which was formed by a massive meteorite impact trillions of years ago. The image depicts the isolation of the rover as it is the only operating rover on Mars. Only other functioning system on Mars being the stationery rover, Insight.

Curiosity is on a mission, i.e., climbing on top of the central butte. Though this task is a staggering one, it is not impossible for Curiosity. The Central Butte is intensely geologically interesting, with sheets of sedimentary rock that hold evidence to the area’s water in the past. The rover will be studying these rock formations in an attempt to gauge their extent. Its equipments are also studying the rock variations found in the region based on color and texture stating different mineral content. The collected data will aid in characterization of these stratigraphic units and their interconnectivity. According to Mr. Kristen Bennet, Curiosity will explore the butte to have a look at it from the other side. The planetary geologist expects a better view from the rover once it’s at the top of the central butte.

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