(ORDO NEWS) — Curiosity has been exploring Mars since 2012 and it is definitely starting to take a toll on it. The nearest car wash is almost 82 million kilometers away, so the dusty six-wheeled car has acquired the color of the Red Planet.
According to NASA, the 59 photos used to create this image were taken on October 25, 2020. The space agency’s imaging experts carefully glued the images together to remove the rover’s handheld lens camera (MAHLI), which was spoiling the frame.
By the way, pay attention to the middle wheel of the rover on the right side of the picture. Looks worn out, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, the next rover that’s on its way now has much stiffer wheels.
Curiosity has recently drilled and analyzed surface samples at a new site called Mary Anning, which NASA’s mission controllers named after a 19th-century English paleontologist. The name is apt because this dusty patch of land could provide scientists with a clue to the events of the planet’s distant past. But instead of looking for Jurassic fossils, Curiosity is looking for carbon-based organic molecules. Recall that the key goal of the Curiosity mission is to detect signs of habitability on Mars in the past.
Curiosity arrived at the Mary Anning site in July and drilled three wells: Mary Anning, Mary Anning 3 and Grocken (named after the rocks in the Scottish Islands). The probe can analyze samples taken from these drilled holes using the built-in CheMin laboratory. The resulting data is further analyzed by the team on Earth. The entire process is expected to take several months.
Curiosity will then focus on the sulfate-rich rock layer at the higher elevation of Mount Sharp. The rover should reach the area early next year.
Surprisingly, NASA’s Perseverance rover, with its unusual heavy-duty wheels, is less than 100 days from arriving on Mars. The next generation rover is due to land at Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. He will join Curiosity and the InSight lander – together the trio will be the only active probes still operating on the Red Planet.
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