It looks like there will be no shortcuts to counterpart underneath a aspect of Mars for NASA‘s Curiosity rover.
Mission scientists had hold out some wish that a 1-ton corsair competence be means to try uninformed impact craters constructed by counterbalance ejected during a Curiosity rover’s landing Sunday night (Aug. 5). But new images from a NASA Mars orbiter advise that reaching those craters competence be too tough, given a fraudulent widen of silt dunes lies in a way, researchers said.
“We would have to do an huge U-turn around a dune field, and we only don’t consider it’s going to be unsentimental to do that,” Curiosity arch scientist John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, told reporters Wednesday (Aug. 8).
Seeing inside Mars
Curiosity is a heart of NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory goal (MSL), that seeks to establish if the Red Planet has ever been means of ancillary microbial life. In their hunt for habitable environments, MSL scientists are naturally penetrating to examine a Martian subsurface wherever possible.
The Martian aspect gets bloody by deviation most some-more exceedingly than Earth, since a Red Planet lacks a protecting captivating margin and has a comparatively skinny atmosphere. As a result, many researchers consider that Martian life — if any exists currently — would some-more expected be found underground. [5 Bold Claims of Alien Life]
Curiosity goal scientists hoped that a rover’s adventurous “seven mins of terror” thrust by a Red Planet’s atmosphere Sunday competence give them a probability to glance a Martian subsurface. Shortly before a MSL booster deployed a supersonic parachute, it ejected 6 55-pound (25-kilogram) tungsten slugs to assistance urge balance.
“I consider a lot of us hoped that those things would come down unequivocally tighten to where we landed, since as tungsten, it’s sincerely inert, and it creates a uninformed impact void that we could demeanour in,” Grotzinger said. “So there’d be a lot of enterprise to do that.”
But new photos from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) advise that it wasn’t meant to be.
Spotting a craters
These photos uncover that a counterbalance came down about 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) from Curiosity’s alighting site inside Gale Crater, MSL researchers announced Wednesday. That’s not accurately close, though a probability of bogging Curiosity down en track is a bigger issue, Grotzinger said.
“Our barrier is this dune margin that we have no enterprise to expostulate opposite unless we have to,” he said.
While there competence be a small beating that a craters seem out of Curiosity’s reach, anticipating them during all is means for celebration, generally among MSL’s entry, skirmish and alighting (EDL) team, researchers said.
“The EDL guys were unequivocally vehement to see these [photos],” pronounced Mike Malin of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, a group personality of MRO’s imaging complement and principal questioner of several of Curiosity’s cameras.
“This is another exam of all a displaying they’ve finished for EDL,” Malin added. “This tells them how dead objects that aren’t doing any activity come by a atmosphere and fall.”
Drilling for samples
Curiosity was lowered to a Martian aspect on cables by a rocket-powered sky crane, that afterwards flew off to crash-land intentionally a protected stretch away. Other MRO photos uncover that a sky derrick landed only 2,100 feet (620 m) or so from Curiosity, though a corsair group is not too meddlesome in checking out a void it done when it came down.
“With all a hydrazine [rocket fuel] that competence be benefaction there, we would indeed unequivocally cite to equivocate that,” Grotzinger pronounced on Monday (Aug. 6). “I don’t doubt that if a trail of scholarship takes us nearby it, we’re unequivocally going to try to picture it and do all we can to investigate it. But otherwise, we try to equivocate it.”
So if Curiosity wants a uninformed subsurface sample, it will expected have to puncture for it. The six-wheeled drudge can dip dirt, and a cavalcade during a finish of a 7-foot (2.1-m) robotic arm can gimlet 1 in. (2.5 centimeters) into Martian stone — deeper than any corsair has ever been means to go.
- 1st Photos of Mars by Curiosity Rover (Gallery)
- Mars Rover Curiosity: Mars Science Lab Coverage
- Curiosity Rover’s Descent Images Reach Earth | Video
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