Congrats Curiosity rover. The Curiosity rover has finally made it to its primary goal, Mount Sharp. In many ways, this marks the start of Curiosity’s mission. The Mars rover will continue trudging through Sharp’s foothills and analyze the mountain’s lower layers to get a history of the red planet.
The trek to Mount Sharp has been an interesting one for Curiosity. One detour took the rover towards a spot called Yellowknife Bay. The detour paid off as Curiosity drilled into rocks that showed several chemical elements that were suitable for microbial life.
Curiosity’s Twitter announced its arrival and proclaimed “New science ahead!”
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) September 11, 2014
With its primary goal met, Curiosity’s next task will be finding places that not only could have supported life, but preserved signs of it. This will be a difficult task since it has been so long since Mars could have possibly supported life. Plus the process that makes rocks, usually destroys organic carbon.
What can we expect from Curiosity in the near term? Over the next two weeks, the rover will reach an area called Pahrump Hills. Here, the first drill samples of Mount Sharp will be collected.
“We have finally arrived at the far frontier that we sought for so long,” California Institute of Technology geologist John Grotzinger said on a conference call. A detour towards safer ground actually ended up shaving a few months off the trek to Mount Sharp.
“The wheel damage… drove us on a pathway further south to be safer to the wheels and once we got to the location… we recognized that in fact this was an even better place to go across the boundary,” Grotzinger added. This boundary he talks about lies between the cratered plains of Gale Crater (Curiosity’s landing point) and the base of Mount Sharp.
We will keep you posted as Curiosity continues its mission at Mount Sharp.