Unlike its smaller counterpart, Opportunity, NASA’s Curiosity Rover keeps on truckin’ despite a global red planet dust storm that’s lasted months. And, not only that, it is uncovering new extraterrestrial discoveries. It’s also taking awesome selfies.
As Curiosity Rover traverses Mars’ surface, it is taking samples of Martian rock to see what it’s made of, and what might have been there before. But, it’s running up against particularly hard rock. It was thought that a a new drill method, employed earlier this year, would help get through the hard stuff. But the new method has proven to be just as effective as the last. So, it’s the rocks’ fault.
But, on August 9th, Curiosity accomplished two things. It drilled an effective sample of notably colorful rock, suggesting new discoveries in its contents, and it took an awesome 360 degree panoramic picture of itself. It will be grinding up the rock and analyzing it in its in-house lab to see if what NASA scientists suspect is true… that the rock was hardened by groundwater flowing through it in the planet’s ancient past.
Much of the Vera Rubin Ridge, where Curiosity currently resides, has a large amount of hematite, a mineral that forms in water, in it. It’s raising a lot of eyebrows about the presence of water on Mars, and therefore, potential life. The picture is all over the internet, obviously.
According to nasa.gov, Curiosity will drill twice more in September, and move to it’s “scientific end zone” in October. Opportunity, on the other hand, has been asleep since the beginning of the dust storm, and has been given a deadline. If Opportunity doesn’t wake up within 45 days of the end of the dust storm, NASA will give up its efforts to contact the rover.