NASA's Curiosity rover has completed seven years on Mars and it has shared a 360-degree view of the Teal Ridge alongside a throwback video of its landing on the red planet. It’s been seven years since NASA’s Curiosity rover first touched the surface of the Mars. It has traveled a total of 21 kilo metres distance and climbed 368 metres to its current location to find that the conditions on ancient Mars were favourable to support microbial life, among other things.
- It shared a 360-degree view of the Teal Ridge, an area which shows signs of ancient water bodies. Curiosity’s video also shows the Upper Mount Sharp, Vera Rubin Ridge, and the rim of the Gale Crater on Mars.
- The crater is believed to be a dry lake on Mars and there are signs that it had water in the past, which is why this was also chosen as the landing site for Curiosity.
- As of now, the Curiosity is halfway through a region called “clay-bearing unit” on the side of the Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater.
- The rover has drilled 22 samples from the Martian surface and it has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades. After that, Curiosity will budget its power to keep studying Mars.
- As part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Mission, the Curiosity found that billions of years ago, there were streams and lakes within the crater it landed.
- The water altered the sediment deposited within the lakes, leaving behind lots of clay minerals in the region. A few years before Curiosity was launched, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) detected that clay signal first from space.
- Earlier, the Curiosity rover took detailed images of “Strathdon,” a rock made of dozens of sediment layers that have hardened into a brittle, wavy heap. It showed wavy layers in the rock which is nothing like the thin, flat layers associated with lake sediments Curiosity has studied in the region.
- These features suggest a more dynamic environment in the area giving birth to speculations that wind, flowing water or both could have shaped this area. Both Teal Ridge and Strathdon represent changes in the landscape.