US space agency NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has taken a major step forward in its search mission to find possibility of life on the Red Planet.
According to the space agency, the rover has tasted the first bite out of the giant mountain that it crossed with much effort recently. The NASA scientists are hopeful that the samples taken from the base of Mars’ Mount Sharp can provide crucial clues about the Martian environment at the time of formation of the mountain.
The one-ton Curiosity rover on Wednesday (September 24) carried drilling of 2.6 inches, i.e. 6.7 centimeters, into an outcrop at the base of the mountain that stands tall at 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Martian sky. The Mars rover Curiosity collected powdered rock samples for further analysis by the onboard instruments of the rover.
“The drilling target is at the lowest part of the base layer of the mountain. We have planned to examine the higher and younger layers exposed in the nearby hills from here onwards,” Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity deputy project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.
Mount Sharp or Mt. Sharp has been the main scientific destination of the Curiosity rover mission before its launch in November 2011. For proceeding towards the Mount Sharp and carrying drilling on it, the Curiosity rover had to change its path as harsh surface of the mountain posed serious threats to the rover’s wheels. The team behind the mission had to cancel their drilling ambitions due to the tough surface of the mountain.
“This first look at rocks we believe to underlie Mt. Sharp is exciting. This is all because it will begin to form a picture of the environment during the formation of the mountain and what led to its growth,” Vasavada added further.
The scientists engaged with the Mars mission wanted the Curiosity to climb up through the foothills of Mount Sharp and read its rocky surface in order to find answers for the long debated question about what led the early Mars to shift from a warm and wet world to the cold and the dry planet that we know today.
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