Aug 6, 2019

New Finds for Mars Rover, Seven Years After Landing

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, space

Seven years. 13 miles. 22 samples. ⁣ ⁣ NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover has come a long way since touching down on the Red Planet seven years ago. See for yourself: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/new-finds-for-mars-rover-se…er-landing

NASA’s Curiosity rover has come a long way since touching down on Mars seven years ago. It has traveled a total of 13 miles (21 kilometers) and ascended 1,207 feet (368 meters) to its current location. Along the way, Curiosity discovered Mars had the conditions to support microbial life in the ancient past, among other things.

And the rover is far from done, having just drilled its 22nd sample from the Martian surface. It has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations. After that, careful budgeting of its power will allow the rover to keep studying the Red Planet.

Curiosity is now halfway through a region scientists call the “clay-bearing unit” on the side of Mount Sharp, inside of Gale Crater. Billions of years ago, there were streams and lakes within the crater. Water altered the sediment deposited within the lakes, leaving behind lots of clay minerals in the region. That clay signal was first detected from space by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) a few years before Curiosity launched.

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