Rover Curiosity Discovered a Region That Could Explain Climate Transition on Mars

The Curiosity rover is following its mission to Mars, after discovering a dry region that could explain the red planet’s climate shift, according to a statement and video recently released by NASA.

Gale Crater, where Curiosity landed in August 2012, once housed a water system made up of groundwater that flows into a massive lake. However, millions of years ago, for whatever reason, everything dried up until we came to the desert landscape that permeates the Red Planet to this day.

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“We’ve spent the past few years studying the clay-rich rocks that form in lakes and ponds,” Curiosity associate scientist Abigail Freeman said in a snippet of the three-minute video above. But now we are entering an area where the rocks are filled with salty minerals called sulfates. These minerals form under drier conditions, so we think this region can show us how the climate on Mars is starting to change. “

“That area,” in this case, is Mount Sharp, about eight kilometers (kilometres) high located in the center of Gale Crater. Since 2014, a compact rover has been climbing this hill, collecting samples of the soil that makes up it.

According to NASA, Curiosity has traveled 26 kilometers since it reached Mars, having also covered a total altitude of 460 meters (m). During this period, he has already dug and collected 32 soil samples. Given its trajectory, the rover passed through distinct sample structures, which may provide a glimpse into when and how Mars transitioned from a watery planet to a barren desert.

Despite the long duration of the mission, the rover has a power supply system based on nuclear technology. Designed to last a total of 14 years on Earth, the robot is expected to continue climbing Mount Sharp for a few more years.

Meanwhile, the persistent rover and an Ingenuity RC helicopter set out to search for signs of ancient life on Mars.

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