Mars Curiosity celebrates sol 2,000

March 23, 2018, NASA
This mosaic taken by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover looks uphill at Mount Sharp, which Curiosity has been climbing since 2014. Highlighted in white is an area with clay-bearing rocks that scientists are eager to explore; it could shed additional light on the role of water in creating Mount Sharp. The mosaic was assembled from dozens of images taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam). It was taken on Sol 1931 back in January. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. An image mosaic taken by the rover in January offers a preview of what comes next.

Looming over the image is Mount Sharp, the mound Curiosity has been climbing since September 2014. In the center of the image is the rover's next big, scientific target: an area scientists have studied from orbit and have determined contains .

The formation of clay minerals requires water. Scientists have already determined that the lower layers of Mount Sharp formed within lakes that once spanned Gale Crater's floor. The area ahead could offer additional insight into the presence of water, how long it may have persisted, and whether the ancient environment may have been suitable for life.

Curiosity's science team is eager to analyze pulled from the clay-bearing rocks seen in the center of the image. The rover recently started testing its drill again on Mars for the first time since December 2016. A new process for drilling rock samples and delivering them to the rover's onboard laboratories is still being refined in preparation for scientific targets like the area with clay minerals.

Curiosity landed in August 2012 and has traveled 11.6 miles (18.7 kilometers) in that time. In 2013, the mission found evidence of an ancient freshwater-lake environment that offered all the basic chemical ingredients for microbial life. Since reaching Mount Sharp in 2014, Curiosity has examined environments where both waterand wind have left their marks. Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and groundwater, Curiosity's international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at leastmillions of years.

Explore further: Image: Mount Sharp 'photobombs' Mars Curiosity rover

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Mar 24, 2018
Mars loves machines. They'll do much better there than we will.

Earth hates machines. The moisture, the caustic atmosphere, the mold and slime and bugs all attack and degrade machines.

Why would we want to turn the surface of mars into another earth? Our machines will not allow it.
Thorium Boy
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2018
What these devices need is 3D, high resolution imaging to allow controllers on Earth to make the very best decisions about which targets on Mars to investigate.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 28, 2018
Curiosity already has this.

"Two Pairs of Engineering Navigation Cameras (Navcams):

"Mounted on the mast (the rover "neck and head"), these black-and-white cameras use visible light to gather panoramic, three-dimensional (3D) imagery. The navigation camera unit is a stereo pair of cameras, each with a 45-degree field of view that supports ground navigation planning by scientists and engineers. They work in cooperation with the hazard avoidance cameras by providing a complementary view of the terrain."
https://marsmobil...ndother/

-as well as 13 other cameras.

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