NASA’s Curiosity rover will be touring Mars. The over five-years-old mission will scout over 1.6 kilometers up the mountainous areas of Mars to understand the planet’s history. This mission will evaluate the feasibility of Mars for ancient microbial life.
The Curiosity rover will be moving over the 5.5 kilometers high Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons). The evaporates of this region have sulfates in it. The sulfate remains can help understand the inevitable evolution of the surface of Mars in more than one billion past years. Speculations have it that the planet had a scarce atmosphere in this period, which resulted in the disappearance of running water.
Curiosity will be maneuvering through the landscape of the red planet. The terrain of this planet is rocky, and there is a likelihood of encountering obstacles, which the rover must evade to ensure that it remains safe and as a whole piece. The shelter-in-place measures due to the coronavirus pandemic will force the rover drivers to control the rover and keep it on track from their homes. The epidemic has forced the drivers to stay away from their regular offices at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. The rover is designed in such a way that it can use its artificial intelligence to move on its own.
The lead rover driver Matt Gildner states that the drivers must be around since the rover cannot sufficiently drive on its own. The rover drivers’ presence is to assist the rover meander through large rocks or ruffian terrain. He explains that the rover halts when it has little details concerning a drive on its own.
In the past, Curiosity rover stopped at a clay-bearing unit, which is an evolution in a watery region. The researchers hope to understand the stomp between the clay unit and the sulfate unit called the Greenheugh pediment. Scientists speculate that this feature is a product of the climate change in Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover was supposed to land. There is evidence that 154 kilometers width of this crater was covered with lakes, which over billions of years dried up. Mount Sharp constitutes the sediments eroded from the crater.
However, the scientists are uncertain if the pediment was formed by wind or water erosion; what is visible are the sand particles forming a sandstone cap on the pediment. Another evidence is nodules in the sandstones composing the Greenheugh. A doctoral student at the University of California, Alexander Bryk, explains that nodules like these need water to be articulate. Bryk is one of the pediment observers. He speculates that the water might have struck the sand onto the pediment before going back.
Finally, the Curiosity rover will arrive at the sulfate unit this year when the Earth drools over the Northern Hemisphere. This move will mark the eighth anniversary of the rover launching for the Jezero Crater. The new rover for this mission will now be called the Perseverance.