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Curiosity: NASA unveils a superb Martian panorama – journal du geek


It’s not just Perseverance that deserves public attention; As the ninth anniversary of his arrival on Mars approaches, it was his elder brother Curiosity who gave us a superb guided tour commented by NASA.

The most popular NASA soap opera lately has been arguably the adventure of Perseverance. Since they landed on the Red Planet last February, the adventures of the Martian rover and his friend Ingenuity have been widely documented by the space agency, which regularly gives us news and superb photos.

Therefore, it would be easy to forget that in the shadow of this prodigal son, another robot is currently roaming Martian soil: the rover Curiosity. This one will also celebrate its ninth birthday on the spot on August 6; he therefore seized the opportunity to provide us with a superb panorama.

To capture him, Curiosity was able to benefit from the favors of the Martian winter; during this period, the atmosphere is less charged with red dust, which makes it easier to take pictures. This makes it possible in particular to distinguish the edge of the crater of Gale, approximately 26 kilometers away.

This mild weather allowed him to take some souvenir photos from the flanks of Aeolis Mons; it is a mountain located in the center of the crater of Gale where the rover landed. We can make out a dark gray dust; it is volcanic rock sand. As in a desert on our planet, we can clearly distinguish even characteristic ripples produced by the wind. This gigantic sandbox, Curiosity, however, had to bypass it. No question of risking bogging down such a precious machine; after nine years of good and loyal service, it would be a shame if the mission was aborted because of a stupid muddle!

Storming Aeolis Mons

The Gale crater, with Aeolis Mons in the center. © NASA / Jet Propulstion Laboratory

The rover had spent its early years studying clay rocks at the bottom of Gale Crater; a very rich area scientifically speaking, since it was once the bed of a huge lake. In the images, we can also see large very rounded rocks; a form often characteristic of a long period of erosion. But as he climbs Aeolis Mons, Curiosity arrives in a region full of minerals typical of drier regions. NASA astronomers therefore hope to be able to derive information on the evolution of the Martian climate.

The rocks in this area will begin to tell us how this once humid planet evolved into today’s dry planet, and how long these environments remained habitable afterwards.”, Explains Abigail Fraeman, member of the Curiosity team, on the NASA website.

Curiosity will now continue to climb Aeolis Mons; it will then pass a higher altitude canyon to reach its next destination, called “Greenheugh’s Pediment”. With a bit of luck we may receive new and even more detailed photos of this area which was already briefly visited last year!


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