REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA—NASA confirms the rover Mars Curiosity managed to reach a dangerous destination on the Red Planet, namely the Gediz Vallis Ridge. The explorer succeeded in achieving its goal after three failed attempts.
Reported Space, Monday (25/9/2023) scientists believe that three billion years ago, when Mars was much wetter than the arid land it is today, powerful debris flows carried mud and boulders down the sides of nearby mountains known as as Mount Sharp. According to NASA, this debris “spread out in a fan shape that was then eroded by the wind onto a towering ridge.”
In practical terms, that background means these ridges hold evidence of Mars’ blue past- and perhaps more interestingly, information about the planet’s dangerous ancient landslides.
Geologist William Dietrich, a member of the mission team at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement he could not imagine what it would have been like to witness this event.
“Large rocks torn from the mountain high above slid down the hill, and spread out in a fan shape below. “The results of this campaign will encourage us to better explain such events not only on Mars, but even on Earth, where they constitute a natural hazard,” said Dietrich.
The target was achieved on August 14, or the 3,923rd Martian day (sol) of the mission. Once settled, Curiosity’s Mastcam took 136 individual images of the site that were combined to form a 360-degree panorama that was then color enhanced for visual purposes.
To reach the Gediz Vallis Ridge, Curiosity had to overcome several obstacles.
First, the rover had difficulty accessing this long-sought region on Mars after exploring a place known as the Greenheugh Pediment in 2021, which scientists say is an extremely difficult rock formation to climb.
Then, last year, Curiosity discovered knife-edged, speckled “alligator back” rocks along another possible route to the Ridge. The nickname “gator back” comes from the fact that these rocks resemble the scales on an alligator’s back. They are believed to be made of sandstone- which also makes them the hardest type of rock Curiosity has ever encountered on Mars.
Earlier this year, Curiosity faced another setback on its way to Gediz Vallis after visiting Marker Band Valley. Exit Marker Band, said NASA at that point, it was comparable to taking part in a Martian “slip-and-slide.” The whole ordeal left Curiosity in a tough spot.
The Curiosity team called GV Ridge the “‘Bermuda Triangle’ of Mount Sharp,” according to a mission update earlier this year.
“We are now just a few meters away from being able to reach and obtain contact science on some of the ridge material, and anticipation is building,” the update added.
But now Curiosity has satisfied our curiosity. “After three years, we have finally found a place where Mars allows Curiosity to safely access a steep ridge,” Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. “It’s exciting to be able to reach out and touch rocks removed from high up on Mount Sharp that we will never be able to visit with Curiosity.”
As for the final point, Curiosity was never intended to make an ascent to the summit of Mount Sharp, which means dissecting rocks in the ground that once stood at the top of the formation is an important unique opportunity.
The rover has been exploring the five-kilometer mountain since 2014, and found evidence of ancient river flows and the like along the way, explains NASA, but the Gediz Vallis ridge is a completely new area to investigate — and, in fact, the youngest section in the region the.
According to NASA, Curiosity spent 11 days on the ridge after its arrival in mid-August. During this time, the camera captured dark rocks in the area that “obviously came from elsewhere on the mountain,” as well as other rocks lower on the ridge, “some of which were as big as cars.” The fragments are thought to have come from higher up on Mount Sharp.
Curiosity’s Mastcam, in total, captured 136 images of the Gediz Vallis Ridge stitched together in a mosaic to form a 360-degree view. Furthermore, Tim said, the rover offered scientists the first close-up view of a geological creature called a “debris flow fan,” which refers to the phenomenon in which debris flowing down a slope spreads out into a fan shape.
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