NASAs Curiosity Mars Rover Explores Mount Sharp And Its Expansive Martian Sands

NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover sent footage of its exploration mission to the 8-kilometre-high Mount Sharp revealing a varied landscape covered in huge boulders, jagged terrain and rolling fields of black martian sand.

The Curiosity rover is into its 9th year on the red planet and is currently exploring Mount Sharp in the 154-kilometre (96 miles) wide basin of the Gale Crater.

The images sent back to NASA were captured by the Rover’s mast camera on July 3, 2021.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover finds a changing landscape. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS/Newsflash)

Abigail Fraeman, Curiosity’s deputy project scientist, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said: “The rocks here will begin to tell us how this once-wet planet changed into the dry Mars of today, and how long habitable environments persisted even after that happened.”

The rover is collecting samples for analysis which scientists at NASA hope will reveal how and why the Gale Crater dried up over time.

NASA said in a statement that similar changes are seen across the whole planet, and studying this region up close has been a major long-term goal for the mission.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover finds a changing landscape. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS/Newsflash)

The rover was able to capture very clear pictures of the Martian surface because it’s currently winter in its location meaning there is less dust in the air than during other seasons.

Curiosity landed on the red planet nine years ago, on 5th August 2012, to study whether different Martian environments could have supported microbial life in the planet’s ancient past when lakes and groundwater existed within Gale Crater.

The rover collects rock samples that it then breaks down using its onboard drill which breaks the rock down into a powder.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover finds a changing landscape. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS/Newsflash)

The powder is then sent to the rover’s chassis where instruments determine which chemicals and minerals are present.

Curiosity recently drilled its 32nd rock sample from a target nicknamed ‘Pontours’ that will help detail the region’s transition from a high concentration of clay minerals to one dominated by sulfates.

The rover has a long journey ahead of it as it now heads up the winding trail between ‘Rafael Navarro Mountain’ and a towering hill that’s taller than a four-story building.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover finds a changing landscape. (NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS/Newsflash)

In the coming year, the rover will drive past these two features into a narrow canyon before revisiting the ‘Greenheugh Pediment’ a slope with a sandstone cap that the rover briefly summited last year.

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