NASA’s Rover Curiosity Looks to Jump Sand Dune
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover had crossed a sand dune where it was temporarily stuck and is now on its way to Mount Sharp, a land mass that is its final destination.
On Tuesday, the rover passed a one-meter-high sand dune and was waiting for further instructions. Mission control wanted to make out whether it would be safe for the rover to move downwards or not.
An assessment was made that the descent would be safe. This was happy news for NASA as the rover proved the estimates of NASA scientists correct as it successfully crossed the dune without any major issue.
Noah Warner and Matt Heverly, mission managers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, posted individually on Twitter that the rover has successfully passed over its latest obstacle. On late Thursday night, Warner tweeted, "Over the dune and through the gap we go, image looking back at our tracks across the Dingo Gap dune".
The mission controllers had to opt between two risks on finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. The very first was the risk of crossing over the sand dune that appeared in its path to Mount Sharp and the other was skirting around Mount Sharp. This would mean moving over very rocky terrain like that responsible for causing worrying dents and punctures in Curiosity's aluminum wheels.
The sand dune route could have stuck the rover in sand trap, similar to the one that occurred with NASA's Spirit rover in late 2009, thereby resulting in its destruction or becoming skewered by sharp rocks hidden underneath the sandy surface. NASA finally made a decision to send Curiosity over the three-foot-high dune.
Curiosity is now moving in a southwesterly direction and will stop at a spot called KMS-9. At KMS-9, the team is looking forward to carry out a drilling operation into some very intriguing bedrock.
NASA rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity, have discovered signs that liquid water once flowed across the Martian landscape. Curiosity's lead investigator John Grotzinger says that mission scientists are now paying attention for searching environments containing organic carbon.
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