Exploring the Martian environment as much as possible is practically mandatory for space agencies if they truly want to ever send humans there. And it’s great to conclude that astronomers are doing exactly that: using powerful rovers to roam across Mars and bring back precious data.
NASA’s Curiosity rover that’s present on Mars for more than a decade, spotted unusual and spiky rocks on the planet on May 15.
#PPOD: Here is another cool rock at Gale crater on Mars! The spikes are most likely the cemented fillings of ancient fractures in a sedimentary rock. The rest of the rock was made of softer material and was eroded away. 📷: @NASA @NASAJPL @Caltech #MSSS fredk, acquired on May 17. pic.twitter.com/RGfjmRBfI7
— The SETI Institute (@SETIInstitute) May 26, 2022
The image was possible thanks to the Mast Camera (aka Mastcam) of the Curiosity rover.
There will be a mosaic on the hill just off at a distance, now called ‘Sierra Maigualida,’ which will tell us more about the textures of the uppermost unit of the hill.
The Curiosity rover is also climbing Mount Sharp in its attempt to see various environmental positions. But the main goal arguably remains to find habitable places on the Red Planet.
NASA is not the only space agency that’s interested in exploring Mars. China’s astronomers rely on their Zhurong rover for studying the Red Planet, and the exploration began last year. The data brought by the rover indicate that liquid water existed on Mars only 700 million years ago, meaning much more recently than astronomers initially believed.
Eva Scheller from CalTech declared for space.com the following:
One of the major things we’ll have to find out and that I look forward to seeing from the Zhurong rover is how extensive these ‘young’ water-bearing minerals are,
Are they common or uncommon in these ‘young’ rocks?
NASA hopes to send the first astronauts to the Red Planet by the end of the current decade. Space agencies still need to learn more to know for sure how the human body would react in the Martian environment, even while it’s protected by the spacesuit.