NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity not too long ago posed for a selfie in entrance of a gorgeous Martian rock outcrop referred to as “Mont Mercou,” after probing the realm for clues concerning the Purple Planet’s previous.
Curiosity landed inside Mars’ 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater in August 2012 with a major purpose to search out out if the planet is, or was, appropriate for all times. Earlier in March, the rover arrived at a scenic rock formation because it traversed the slopes of Mount Sharp — a Three-mile-tall (5 km) mountain situated on the middle of Gale Crater, which Curiosity has been climbing since September 2014.
This new rock formation — nicknamed Mont Mercou after a mountain in France — stands about 20 ft (6 meters) tall and could be seen to the left of the rover within the new selfie, which NASA launched Tuesday (March 30).
Utilizing its Mastcam instrument, the rover snapped 11 pictures of itself close to Mont Mercou on March 16, together with one other 60 pictures on March 26, which had been taken utilizing the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the rover’s robotic arm. The 2 units of pictures had been mixed to create the rover’s latest selfie.
The brand new pictures not solely seize the rover and the attractive Martian panorama, but additionally present a brand new drill gap, representing Curiosity’s 30th rock pattern on Mars, which has been nicknamed “Nontron” after the small village within the southeast of France, close to Mont Mercou. Curiosity used its drill to pulverize the rock samples into powder, which is then deposited into laboratory devices contained in the automobile and analyzed for indicators that Mars might have as soon as supported life, based on a statement from NASA.
“The crew selected Nontron-related nicknames for this a part of the Purple Planet as a result of Mars orbiters detected nontronite, a kind of clay mineral discovered near Nontron, [France],” based on the assertion. “Floor missions assign nicknames to landmarks to supply the mission’s crew members a typical strategy to confer with rocks, soils and different geologic options of curiosity.”
Presently, the rover is working its method up Mount Sharp, transitioning from the “clay-bearing unit” — an space characterised by minerals that often type in water — and the “sulfate-bearing unit.” Sulfates, like gypsum and Epsom salts, are minerals that type when water evaporates, so the presence of sulfates on Mars might present clues concerning the historical past of water on Mars.
“Scientists have lengthy thought this transition may reveal what occurred to Mars because it turned the desert planet we see right this moment,” based on the NASA assertion
Along with the brand new selfie, the rover additionally captured a pair of panoramas that supply a 3D view of Mount Mercou. Utilizing its Mastcam on March four, Curiosity took 32 particular person pictures to create one panoramic view of the outcrop from about 130 ft (40 m) away. The rover additionally photographed the edges of the rock formation from the identical distance to create a stereoscopic impact much like these seen in 3D viewfinders.
“Finding out the outcrop from multiple angle helps scientists get a greater concept of the 3D geometry of Mount Mercou’s sedimentary layers,” based on the assertion from NASA.
Curiosity additionally used its Mastcam to create a 360-degree panorama of Mont Mercou and its environment, which consists of 126 particular person pictures taken on March Three. Mont Mercou is captured to the suitable within the higher a part of this panoramic view, with Mount Sharp’s peaks towering behind the outcrop and its summit close to the highest of the picture, simply left of middle.
Comply with Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.