Stunning photos of Mars have been shared by Nasa, including a close-up of an ancient pond.
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has been traversing the red planet for years, taking amazing photos.
The team behind the rover targeted a loamy region full of sulfates to find evidence of water on the planet, which provides information about Martian climate that scientists are still trying to understand.
The minerals formed when lakes and streams were once a reality over Gale Crater, which now sits at the base of Mount Sharp, a three-mile mountain that the Curiosity rover has been cruising through since 2014.
Higher up the mountain is the “transition zone,” where Curiosity’s photos showed dried streams and sand dunes forming over the lake’s sediments.
“We’re no longer seeing the lake deposits that we’ve been seeing deeper on Mount Sharp for years,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Instead, we see a lot of evidence of drier climates, like dry dunes that were occasionally lapped by streams. This is a big change from the lakes that may have existed millions of years ago.”
The rover finds less clay and more sulfate as it climbs higher through the transition zone, and soon Curiosity will find the last rock sample it will take in this zone.
This will hopefully provide a more detailed look at the changing mineral makeup of the planet’s rocks.
Curiosity takes panorama-style photos that show the landscape of the still-mysterious planet.
Information gathered from these photos describes the intricate knowledge of water on the planet. According to the Nasa website, it’s possible that the groundwater ebbed and flowed at some point.
Curiosity will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Mars in August, but nothing stands in the way of continuing its mission.
Earlier this month, the rover was forced to go into safe mode after detecting above-normal temperatures on the planet.
This shuts down all functions except the most important ones so the technicians can still assess the situation.
A few days later, curiosity returned to normal, but engineers still wanted to analyze the exact cause of the problem, suspecting it was caused by the rover detecting a temperature anomaly.
Previous problems with the rover’s wheels had also led to Team Curiosity ordering new photos of its wheels every 3,281 feet or 1,000 meters.
“Should we ever get to the point where a single wheel has broken most of its webs, we could perform a controlled fracture to eject the remaining pieces,” said Megan Lin, Curiosity’s project manager.
“Based on recent trends, it seems unlikely that we will need to take such action. The wheels are holding up well and providing the traction we need to continue our climb.”
https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5629858/nasa-curiosity-mars-rover-photos-ancient-lake/ Nasa Shares Stunning Images Of Mars Including Close-up Of ‘Ancient Martian Pond’