2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Curiosity mosaic image, composed of 57 images taken with a camera mounted on a manipulator, on May 12, 2019. The Aberleady and Kilmari boreholes are visible in the lower left corner of the mosaic.
Curiosity has found clay minerals in rock outcrops at the foot of Mount Sharpe, which are estimated to be the highest ever recorded by a rover. This supports the idea that Gale Crater once contained significant amounts of water and the rock in the area was formed from sedimentary layers of ancient lakes, according to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.
Curiosity began operating on Mars in 2012 as part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. Its main task is to study the geological history and atmosphere of Mars, for which it is equipped with many scientific instruments. From the moment it landed in Gale Crater, the rover moved towards the foot of the five-kilometer Sharpe Mountain - the central elevation of the crater, covered with a layer of eroded layers of sedimentary rocks.
In early April 2019, the rover began drilling at the foot of Mount Sharp as part of a search for clay minerals, signs of which in the surface layer of the soil at the current location of the rover were found by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter before the rover landed on the planet's surface in 2012. Confirmation of the presence of clay can help the mission team understand how and in what era these deposits were formed. Previously, the rover had already detected clay minerals in fine-grained sedimentary rocks that formed in the sediments of ancient rivers and lakes about 3.5 billion years ago.
Analysis of soil samples from two holes made by the rover in the outcrops called Aberlady and Kilmarie, using the Chemin tool, revealed the highest content of clay minerals that the rover has ever detected during its mission to the Red Planet. This confirms the idea that Gale Crater once had a significant amount of water and the rocks in the area were formed from sedimentary layers of ancient lakes. In addition, the samples contain hematite, but its content is extremely low compared to the samples from the Vera Rubin Ridge.
In honor of the rover's sixth anniversary since its inception on Mars, we have compiled the best images captured with its cameras. You can see them in our material "The Martian".