Curiosity rover finds more evidence of ancient watery regions on Mars

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,229   +158
Staff member
What just happened? NASA has shared images recently captured by Curiosity as the rover travels from a clay-rich region on Mars to one primarily comprised of a salty mineral known as sulfate. The space agency chose these two regions in hopes of learning more about the planet's watery past but as it turns out, the transition area between them is proving to be quite enlightening.

The photo above is a mosaic comprised of six images captured by Curiosity's mast camera on June 2, 2022. It is believed that the flaky rock layers depicted in the photo formed in an ancient pond or streambed.

Curiosity has been making its way up the foothills of a three-mile-high mountain known as Mount Sharp since 2014. At the base is the clay-rich area, which likely was once home to flowing streams and lakes. Higher up in the transition zone, observations suggest the streams dissipated into trickles. Eventually, sand dunes formed above the lake sediments.

"We no longer see the lake deposits that we saw for years lower on Mount Sharp," said Ashwin Vasavada, a Curiosity project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Instead, we see lots of evidence of drier climates, like dry dunes that occasionally had streams running around them. That's a big change from the lakes that persisted for perhaps millions of years before."

NASA said the rover will soon drill its final sample in the transition region to get a better look at the changing mineral composition of the rocks.

Curiosity touched down on Mars way back in August 2012 and has been studying the Red Planet's climate and geology ever since. Unsurprisingly, the rover is starting to show signs of wear after nearly a decade of operation. One of its aluminum wheels has lost several of its treads, but that doesn't seem to be a major concern.

"We have proven through ground testing that we can safely drive on the wheel rims if necessary," said Megan Lin, Curiosity's project manager at JPL.

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Underdog

Posts: 264   +161
If you're prepared to spend the sort of cash the rover cost to build you can have any household appliance you want of equal quality. Sadly people are more interested in cheap and disposable products these days rather than Victorian-style durability.
 

gdavid65

Posts: 39   +39
Wouldn't it be amazing if they found a fossil in that sedimentary rock!

I think it's entirely possible one day... To me now, it is not an if, just when. That's the disadvantage of a robot rover, it's quite slow. If we ever get humans there, we could achieve in weeks what a robot could in decades.

Hopefully in my lifetime it will be proven.

Either life originated on Mars, and an asteroid event sent live microbes to Earth, or vice versa. But it looks pretty certain now Mars contained a very wet planet for a period, much like Earth then/now, quite conducive to life.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,910   +7,881
Yeah, all is good but until they discover some Scotch to go with that water I'm not heading that way ...
 

yannus

Posts: 69   +62
If you're prepared to spend the sort of cash the rover cost to build you can have any household appliance you want of equal quality. Sadly people are more interested in cheap and disposable products these days rather than Victorian-style durability.
Agree except that in fact is it people or corporations that are not interested in quality products ? Some company would make an open source hardware washing machine at twice the price of a normal one, methinks, not the majority but many people would buy it.
 

BigRedPDX

Posts: 284   +200
If you're prepared to spend the sort of cash the rover cost to build you can have any household appliance you want of equal quality. Sadly people are more interested in cheap and disposable products these days rather than Victorian-style durability.
This is very true, however most of that cost went into scientific equipment and automation. I just need the mechanical aspects to be better engineered. It'll cost more but I want that investment to last.