Washington, September 9 (Europa Press). NASA & # 39; s Curiosity Rover on Mars has sent the earth a new 360-degree panorama from the current location on the verge of Vera Rubin on the slope of Mount Sharp.
The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcJLZfPiyfc), taken on August 9, and now released by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), includes the gloomy skies, darkened by a global dust storm that vanishes. It also contains an exceptional view of the rover mast chamber, which reveals a thin layer of dust on the Curiosity deck.
In the foreground is the most recent drilling objective of the rover, called "Tough", in honor of a city in Scotland, near where important discoveries were made about life on earth in more sediments.
The new drilling sample was a treat for the scientific team at Curiosity, because the last two attempts to drill the rover were thwarted by unexpected hard stones. Curiosity began earlier this year with a new drilling method to solve a mechanical problem. Tests have shown that it is just as effective in drilling rocks as the previous method, suggesting that hard stones would have been a problem, regardless of the method used.
Curiosity can in no way determine how hard a stone will be before drilling, so for this latest drilling activity the rover team has made an estimate. It was thought that an extended edge on the edge also contained harder rock, able to maintain itself despite the erosion of the wind; it was believed that a spot under the ledge had softer and erodible rocks. It seems that this strategy has been resolved, but there are still many questions about the existence of Vera Rubin in his current configuration.
The rover has never found a place with so much variation in color and texture, according to Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist of the Curiosity project at JPL, who heads the mission of the Mars Science Laboratory of which Curiosity is a part.
"The top is not this monolithic thing, it has two different sections, each with a variety of colors," Vasavada said. "Some are visible to the eye and appear even more when we look at the near infrared, just beyond what our eyes can see, some seem to be related to how hard the rocks are."
The best way to discover why these rocks are so difficult is to drill them into powder for the two internal laboratories of the rover. By analyzing them, it can be revealed what is located on the ridge as "cement", so that it can maintain itself despite the erosion of the wind. Probably, Vasavada said, is that the ground water that flows through the mountain massif in the distant past played a role in the reinforcement, perhaps as a pipeline to this cement. to be distributed in a windproof manner.
A large part of the rim contains hematite, a mineral that forms in water. There is a signal of hematite that is so strong that it drew the attention of NASA jobs as a beacon. Can a variation in the hematite result in harder rocks? Is there something special about the red rocks on the ridge that make them so inflexible?
Vera Rubin Ridge currently keeps her secrets.
In September two more drilled samples are planned for the mountain ridge. Thereafter Curiosity will lead to its latest scientific field: areas enriched with clay minerals and sulphate above Mount Sharp. That promotion is planned for early October.