Curiosity Investigates Petrified Martian Sand Dunes, Contemplates Next Drill Campaign

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NASA’s SUV-sized Curiosity corsair has arrived during a pleasing Martian vistadisplaying a outrageous deposition of distinctively petrified silt dunes that demeanour remarkably like some ordinarily found on Earth and local to a deserts of a U.S. Southwest.

Large-scale crossbedding in a sandstone of this shallow on a reduce slope of Mars’ Mount Sharp is standard of windblown silt dunes that have petrified. NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair used a Mastcam to constraint this perspective on Aug. 27, 2015, Sol 1087. Similarly textured sandstone is common in a U.S. Southwest. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Large-scale crossbedding in a sandstone of this shallow on a reduce slope of Mars’ Mount Sharp is standard of windblown silt dunes that have petrified. NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair used a Mastcam to constraint this perspective on Aug. 27, 2015, Sol 1087. Similarly textured sandstone is common in a U.S. Southwest. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The dunes are keenly fascinating to Red Planet researchers as a NASA drudge celebrates 1100 fanciful Sols of scrutiny and find on Marsand contemplates skeleton for a subsequent cavalcade debate after this month. See dune mosaic above and a Sol 1100 mosaic below.

The petrified silt dunes were detected amongst an area of dim sandstone along a shallow during a reduce slope of Mars’ Mount Sharp. They are now being explored in fact by a 6 wheeled corsair in a geologic underline dubbed a Stimson unit.

“The group is deliberation where to cavalcade subsequent within a Stimson sandstone and we are looking for a best light toned areas to check for mineralogical signs of water-rock reaction,” says John Bridges, corsair group member from a University of Leicester, England, in a latest idea refurbish from today, Sep 12, 2015.

Curiosity looks toward fanciful canyons and buttes during a bottom of Mount Sharp from a Stimson silt dunes on Mars on Sol 1100, Sept. 10 2015 in this print mosaic stitched from Mastcam tone camera tender images. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo

Curiosity looks toward fanciful canyons and buttes during a bottom of Mount Sharp from a Stimson silt dunes on Mars on Sol 1100, Sept. 10 2015 in this print mosaic stitched from Mastcam tone camera tender images. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo

Curiosity also detected large-scale crossbedding in a sandstone that were shaped by a movement of Martian winds.

“This sandstone outcrop — partial of a geological covering that Curiosity’s scholarship group calls a Stimson section — has a structure called crossbedding on a vast scale that a group has interpreted as deposits of silt dunes shaped by wind,” according to a corsair team.

So Curiosity was ordered by her handlers behind on Earth to constraint an array of high fortitude imagery as partial of minute review of a area for adult tighten and hit science.

Dozens of images were taken with a span of high fortitude Mastcam tone cameras on a robots pillar and total into a breathtaking stage uncover above and another shown subsequent with a scalebar a length of a high human, 6.6 feet or 200 centimeters.

Curiosity corsair explores around a Stimson section during a bottom of Mount Sharp on Mars on Sol 1095, Sept. 5, 2015 in this print mosaic stitched from Mastcam tone camera tender images. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

Curiosity corsair explores around a Stimson section during a bottom of Mount Sharp on Mars on Sol 1095, Sept. 5, 2015 in this print mosaic stitched from Mastcam tone camera tender images. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

The images were taken on Aug. 27, 2015, analogous to Sol 1087 of a rover’s work on Mars, regulating both a 34 millimeter-focal-length lens and a 100 mm millimeter-focal-length telephoto Mastcam camera lenses that duty as Curiosity’s left and right eyes.

The scenery spans a Martian turf looking from a east, during left, to a south-southwest during right.

“Some of a dim sandstone in a area …. shows hardness and prone bedding structures evil of deposits that shaped as silt dunes, afterwards were cemented into rock” contend officials.

“Sets of bedding laminations distortion during angles to any other.”

Since holding a scenery in late August, a group has driven Curiosity around a area to collect some-more measurements with her state of a art scholarship instruments.

Later this month, Curiosity will cavalcade into an outcrop during a Stimson section sandstone for collection and feed it for research into a span of on house chemistry labs – SAM and CheMin- located inside a rover’s belly.

Curiosity already carried out initial hit scholarship in a area by fluctuating a robotic arm to stone targets for review with a arm mounted instruments, including a MAHLI camera and APXS spectrometer.

Curiosity “investigated an outcrop of a Stimson section … and conducted successful hit science,” says Lauren Edgar, Research Geologist during a USGS Astrogeology Science Center and an MSL scholarship group member, in a idea update.

Scientists will name a Stimson cavalcade aim soon.

Curiosity extends robotic arm and conducts representation drilling during “Buckskin” stone aim during splendid toned “Lion” outcrop during a bottom of Mount Sharp on Mars, seen during right. Gale Crater eroded edge seen in a apart credentials during left, in this combination multisol mosaic of navcam tender images taken to Sol 1059, Jul 30, 2015. Navcam camera tender images stitched and colorized. Inset: MAHLI tone camera adult tighten picture of full abyss cavalcade hole during “Buckskin” stone aim on Sol 1060. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo

Curiosity extends robotic arm and conducts representation drilling during “Buckskin” stone aim during splendid toned “Lion” outcrop during a bottom of Mount Sharp on Mars, seen during right. Gale Crater eroded edge seen in a apart credentials during left, in this combination multisol mosaic of navcam tender images taken to Sol 1059, Jul 30, 2015. Navcam camera tender images stitched and colorized. Inset: MAHLI tone camera adult tighten picture of full abyss cavalcade hole during “Buckskin” stone aim on Sol 1060. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo

Why try outcrops during Stimson?

“The Stimson section overlies a covering of mudstone that was deposited in a lake environment. Curiosity has been examining constantly aloft and younger layers of Mount Sharp, starting with a mudstone during a mountain’s base, for justification about changes in a area’s ancient environment.”

Curiosity’s before cavalcade debate was recently conducted during a “Buckskin” outcrop aim in early Aug 2015. Buckskin was really important for being a initial high silica stone drilling aim of a mission.

Stimson and Buckskin lay during a bottom of Mount Sharp, a outrageous layered towering that dominates a core of a 96 mile-wide (154 kilometers-wide) Gale Crater alighting site.

Exploring a sedimentary layers of Mount Sharp, that towers 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into a Martian sky, is a primary end and idea of a rovers prolonged tenure systematic speed on a Red Planet.

As of today, Sol 1102, Sep 12, 2015, she has driven some 6.9 miles (11.1 kilometers) kilometers and taken over 268,000 extraordinary images.

Curiosity has already achieved her primary design of finding a habitable section on a Red Planet – during a Yellowknife Bay area – that contains a minerals required to support microbial life in a ancient past when Mars was distant wetter and warmer billions of years ago.

Source: Universe Today, created by Ken Kremer