A longtime NASA rover has imaged the Red Planet’s twisting rock pillars.
Curiosity rover spotted (opens in a new tab) the nervous rocks on May 15, according to raw images the mission sends to Earth. The images were obtained on Sol (Mars day) 3474 from the mission, as Curiosity ramps up its first decade of work on Mars on August 6.
“The spikes are most likely the cemented fillings of ancient fractures in a sedimentary rock,” the SETI Institute said. wrote (opens in a new tab) of the element on May 26. The sedimentary rock is formed from layers of sand and water, but the rest of the rock element “was made of softer material and was eroded,” the institute added on Twitter.
Related: 12 great photos of the 1st year of the Perseverance rover on Mars
The delicate features may also have been shaped by the planet’s lighter gravity, which accounts for about a third of what we experience on Earth. SETI, however, did not specify other environmental factors in its tweet. The size of the features was also not specified.
At sols 3473 and 3475, Curiosity was working at a location on Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) dubbed Mirador Butte, according to a statement posted on the mission’s official blog. (opens in a new tab) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on May 13.
#PPOD: Here’s another cool rock at Gale Crater on Mars! The points are most likely the cemented fillings of old fractures in a sedimentary rock. The rest of the rock was made of softer material and has been eroded. 📷: @NASA @NASAJPL @Caltech #MSSS fredk, acquired May 17. pic.twitter.com/RGfjmRBfI7May 26, 2022
Curiosity’s Mast Camera or Mastcam, which took the strange photo of the Martian rock at some point during this time, was going to be “very busy in this interesting landscape”, according to Curiosity blog editor Susanne Schwenzer, planetary geologist at the Open University in the United States. Kingdom.
“There will be a mosaic on the hill just in the distance, now called ‘Sierra Maigualida,’ which will tell us more about the textures of the highest unit on the hill,” Schwenzer said of the imagery plan. .
The rover was also to examine “interesting structures” on a target dubbed “La Paragua”, perform multispectral analysis on a second target called “San Pedro” and use stereo imaging on a feature called Tapir, which was likely formed by sediment forming rock via chemical and physical changes.
Curiosity has a long-term plan to search for habitable conditions at Gale Crater and is now climbing Mount Sharp to observe environmental deposits over eons.
A new NASA rover, Perseverance, landed on February 18, 2021 to search for potential ancient microbes in an ancient river delta inside Jezero Crater. Perseverance plans to cache samples for a future mission to retrieve for shipment to Earth in the 2030s.