Curiosity Mars Rover Crosses Rugged Plateau

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This 360-degree scenery from a Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars corsair shows a imperishable aspect of Naukluft Plateau and top Mount Sharp during right and partial of a edge of Gale Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This 360-degree scenery from a Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair shows a imperishable aspect of “Naukluft Plateau” and top Mount Sharp during right and partial of a edge of Gale Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair has scarcely finished channel a widen of a many imperishable and difficult-to-navigate turf encountered during a mission’s 44 months on Mars.

The corsair climbed onto a “Naukluft Plateau” of reduce Mount Sharp in early Mar after spending several weeks questioning silt dunes. The plateau’s sandstone bedrock has been forged by eons of breeze erosion into ridges and knobs. The trail of about a entertain mile (400 meters) westward opposite it is holding Curiosity toward smoother surfaces heading to geological layers of systematic seductiveness over uphill.

 

This early-morning perspective from a Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars corsair on Mar 16, 2016, covers a apportionment of a center wall of Gale Crater. At right, a picture fades into glisten of a rising sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

This early-morning perspective from a Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars corsair on Mar 16, 2016, covers a apportionment of a center wall of Gale Crater. At right, a picture fades into glisten of a rising sun. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The harshness of a turf on a plateau lifted regard that pushing on it could be generally deleterious to Curiosity’s wheels, as was turf Curiosity crossed before reaching a bottom of Mount Sharp. Holes and tears in a rover’s aluminum wheels became conspicuous in 2013. The corsair group responded by adjusting a long-term span route, reworking how internal turf is assessed and enlightening how drives are planned. Extensive Earth-based contrast supposing discernment into circle longevity.

The corsair group closely monitors wear and rip on Curiosity’s 6 wheels. “We delicately check and trend a condition of a wheels,” pronounced Steve Lee, Curiosity’s emissary plan manager during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “Cracks and punctures have been gradually accumulating during a gait we anticipated, formed on contrast we achieved during JPL. Given a longevity projections, we am assured these wheels will get us to a destinations on Mount Sharp that have been in a skeleton given before landing.”

Inspection of a wheels after channel many of a Naukluft Plateau has indicated that, while a turf presented hurdles for navigation, pushing opposite it did not accelerate repairs to a wheels.

On Naukluft Plateau, a rover’s Mast Camera has accessible some breathtaking scenes from a top viewpoints Curiosity has reached given a Aug 2012 alighting on a building of Gale Crater on Mars. Examples are accessible online during these sites:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20332

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20333

The scenes uncover wind-sculpted textures in a sandstone bedrock tighten to a rover, and Gale Crater’s edge rising above a void building in a distance. Mount Sharp stands in a center of a crater, that is about 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter.

The subsequent partial of a rover’s track will lapse to a form of lake-deposited mudstone aspect examined previously. Farther forward on reduce Mount Sharp are 3 geological units that have been pivotal destinations for a goal given a alighting site was selected. One of a units contains an iron-oxide vegetable called hematite, that was rescued from orbit. Just above it lies a rope abounding in clay minerals, afterwards a array of layers that enclose sulfur-bearing minerals called sulfates. By examining them with Curiosity, researchers wish to benefit a improved bargain of how prolonged ancient environmental conditions remained auspicious for microbial life, if it was ever benefaction on Mars, before conditions became drier and reduction favorable.

Each of Curiosity’s 6 wheels is about 20 inches (50 centimeters) in hole and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide, milled out of plain aluminum. Most of a wheel’s rim is a lead skin that is about half a density of a U.S. dime. Nineteen zigzag-shaped treads, called grousers, extend about a entertain in. (three-fourths of a centimeter) external from a skin of any wheel. The grousers bear many of a rover’s weight and yield many of a traction and ability to span over disproportionate terrain.

The holes seen in a wheels so distant puncture usually a skin. Wheel-monitoring images performed each 547 yards (500 meters) have not nonetheless shown any grouser breaks on Curiosity. Earth-based contrast examined long-term wear characteristics and a volume of repairs a corsair circle can means before losing a utility for driving. The tests prove that when 3 grousers on a circle have broken, that circle has reached about 60 percent of a useful mileage.

At a stream odometry of 7.9 miles (12.7 kilometers) given a Aug 2012 landing, Curiosity’s wheels are projected to have some-more than adequate life remaining to examine a hematite, clay and sulfate units ahead, even in a doubtful box that adult to 3 grousers mangle soon. The pushing stretch to a start of a sulfate-rich layers is roughly 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers) from a rover’s stream location.

Curiosity reached a bottom of Mount Sharp in 2014 after fruitfully questioning outcrops closer to a alighting site and afterwards movement to a layered mountain.

Source: JPL