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Curiosity Tastes First Sample in 'Clay-Bearing Unit'

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Scientists working with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover have been excited to discover a area known as “the clay-bearing unit” since earlier than the spacecraft launched. Now, the rover has lastly tasted its first pattern from this a part of Mount Sharp.

Curiosity drilled a chunk of bedrock nicknamed “Aberlady” on Saturday, April 6 (the two,370th Martian day, or sol, of the mission), and delivered the pattern to its inside mineralogy lab on Wednesday, April 10 (Sol 2374).

The rover’s drill chewed simply via the rock, not like among the more durable targets it confronted close by on Vera Rubin Ridge. It was so tender, the truth is, that the drill did not want to make use of its percussive method, which is useful for snagging samples from tougher rock. This was the mission’s first pattern obtained utilizing solely rotation of the drill bit.

“Curiosity has been on the street for almost seven years,” stated Curiosity Venture Supervisor Jim Erickson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Lastly drilling on the clay-bearing unit is a significant milestone in our journey up Mount Sharp.”

Scientists are keen to research the pattern for traces of clay minerals as a result of they often type in water. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spied a powerful clay “sign” right here lengthy earlier than Curiosity landed in 2012.

Pinpointing the supply of that sign might assist the science staff perceive if a wetter Martian period formed this layer of Mount Sharp, the Three-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain Curiosity has been climbing.

Curiosity has found clay minerals in mudstones all alongside its journey. These mudstones fashioned as river sediment settled inside historical lakes almost Three.5 billion years in the past. As with water elsewhere on Mars, the lakes finally dried up.

The clay beacon seen from house introduced the rover right here, however the area clearly has a number of different tales to inform. Now that Curiosity is looking this space, scientists can peer round as geological vacationers, discovering a panorama each historical and new.

There are a number of sorts of bedrock and sand, together with lively sand ripples which have shifted prior to now 12 months. Pebbles are scattered in all places – are they eroding from the native bedrock? A number of eye-catching landmarks, resembling “Knockfarril Hill,” stick out as nicely.

“Every layer of this mountain is a puzzle piece,” stated Curiosity Venture Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL. “They every maintain clues to a distinct period in Martian historical past. We’re excited to see what this primary pattern tells us in regards to the historical setting, particularly about water.”

The Aberlady pattern will give the staff a place to begin for excited about the clay-bearing unit. They plan to drill a number of extra occasions over the course of the subsequent 12 months. That may assist them perceive what makes this area totally different from the ridge behind it and an space with a sulfate sign up greater on the mountain.

Associated Hyperlinks

Curiosity Mars Rover MSL

Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
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Curiosity Captured Two Solar Eclipses on Mars

Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 05, 2019

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