NASA’s Curiosity Rover that is currently working from the red planet has started on its summer road trip. After spending almost a year in the clay rich zones on Mars, now the rover will walk 1.6 km through deep sandy regions to go further up on Mount Sharp, NASA announced.
The "sulfate bearing unit" on the mountain is expected to reveal how the "climate on Mars and its prospects for life [had] changed nearly 3 billion years ago".
Just keep roving, roving, roving. I’m on a mile-long quest around deep sand to study a part of Mount Sharp called the "sulfate-bearing unit." It may give more clues how climate on Mars and its prospects for life changed nearly 3 billion years ago. https://t.co/VN9V4rjItI pic.twitter.com/ljHfxEQ1Pj— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) July 6, 2020
Sharing a picture of Mars’ terrain, the official account of the Curiosity Rover tweeted the news on July 7 (Tuesday). The handle is managed by the team of researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the post said: “Just keep roving, roving, roving. I’m on a mile-long quest around deep sand to study a part of Mount Sharp called the "sulfate-bearing unit."
In a blog posted by JPL, the objective of Curiosity Rover’s road trip was explained. The journey will span over the summer by the end of which Curiosity will be able to "ascend to the next section of the 3-mile-tall Martian (5-kilometer-tall) mountain it's been exploring since 2014, searching for conditions that may have supported ancient microbial life".
In the said "sulphate bearing unit", researchers are looking forward to finding sulphates, which like gypsum and epsom salts originate near water. Conducting study here will thus lead to scientists getting a clue to the water’s availability on the planet and how the climate has changed there through the years.
Scientists expect the rover to reach its destination by early fall, given Curiosity travels in the speed range of 25 and 100 meters per hour. But the deep sand terrain on the path can prove to be obstructive that Curiosity has to steer around.