Image: Mars rover Curiosity scoping out next study area

Apr 04, 2014
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

(Phys.org) —On Wednesday, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drove the last 98 feet feet (30 meters) needed to arrive at a site planned since early 2013 as a destination for studying rock clues about ancient environments that may have been favorable for life.

The rover reached a vantage point for its cameras to survey four different types of rock intersecting in an area called "the Kimberley," after a region of western Australia.

"This is the spot on the map we've been headed for, on a little rise that gives us a great view for context imaging of the outcrops at the Kimberley," said Melissa Rice of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. Rice is the science planning lead for what are expected to be several weeks of observations, sample-drilling and onboard laboratory analysis of the area's rocks.

With arrival at this location, Curiosity has driven at total of 3.8 miles (6.1 kilometers) since landing inside Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012.

The mission's investigations at the Kimberley are planned as the most extensive since Curiosity spent the first half of 2013 in an area called Yellowknife Bay. At Yellowknife Bay, the one-ton rover examined the first samples ever drilled from rocks on Mars and found the signature of an ancient lakebed environment providing chemical ingredients and energy necessary for life.

At the Kimberley and, later, at outcrops on the slope of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater, researchers plan to use Curiosity's science instruments to learn more about habitable past conditions and environmental changes.

Explore further: Curiosity Mars rover finds sandstone variations

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Curiosity Mars rover finds sandstone variations

Mar 25, 2014

(Phys.org) —Variations in the stuff that cements grains together in sandstone have shaped the landscape surrounding NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and could be a study topic at the mission's next science waypoint.

Curiosity rover explores 'Yellowknife Bay'

Dec 20, 2012

(Phys.org)—The NASA Mars rover Curiosity this week is driving within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay," providing information to help researchers choose a rock to drill.

Curiosity rover explores 'Yellowknife Bay'

Jan 07, 2013

(Phys.org)—After imaging during the holidays, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity resumed driving Jan. 3 and pulled within arm's reach of a sinuous rock feature called "Snake River."

NASA rover inspects pebbly rocks at Martian waypoint

Sep 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has resumed a trek of many months toward its mountain-slope destination, Mount Sharp. The rover used instruments on its arm last week to inspect rocks at its first ...

Recommended for you

Exploring Mars in low Earth orbit

19 minutes ago

In their quest to understand life's potential beyond Earth, astrobiologists study how organisms might survive in numerous environments, from the surface of Mars to the ice-covered oceans of Jupiter's moon, ...

Lifetime of gravity measurements heralds new beginning

2 hours ago

Although ESA's GOCE satellite is no more, all of the measurements it gathered during its life skirting the fringes our atmosphere, including the very last as it drifted slowly back to Earth, have been drawn ...

NASA's IceCube no longer on ice

6 hours ago

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has chosen a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to build its first Earth science-related CubeSat mission.

Tidal forces gave moon its shape, according to new analysis

20 hours ago

The shape of the moon deviates from a simple sphere in ways that scientists have struggled to explain. A new study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz shows that most of the moon's overall shape can be explained by taking into ...

User comments : 0