Published: Tue, September 11, 2018
Science | By

Curiosity Surveys Fading Global Dust Storm From Vera Rubin Ridge

Curiosity Surveys Fading Global Dust Storm From Vera Rubin Ridge

Before taking some time to admire the sights and capture the lovely snapshots that went on to produce this gorgeous 360-degree video, the rover rolled up its metaphorical sleeves and went to work, grabbing a drilled sample from Stoer.

The region now investigated by Curiosity, Vera Rubin Ridge, has baffled scientists ever since they discovered it. "It also includes a rare view by the Mast Camera of the rover itself, revealing a thin layer of dust on Curiosity's deck".

"The panorama includes umber skies, darkened by a fading global dust storm", NASA explains in a new blog post. The darkish sky is from dust still in the atmosphere.

This composite image from August 9, 2018 photos made available by NASA shows the Curiosity rover at Vera Rubin Ridge on Mars.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, Curiosity has had a hard time with some of its drill targets.

Curiosity is not the only rover on Mars - its older and smaller cousin Opportunity is also on the planet, but we don't know where. Two attempts at drilling the rocks have failed.

While there's no way of knowing which rocks are harder and therefore more difficult to drill into, the Curiosity team has learned that Vera Rubin Ridge has a complex structure.

"The ridge isn't this monolithic thing - it has two distinct sections, each of which has a variety of colors", Vasavada said. As for the target rock that Curiosity's handlers sampled, it was a big win for the team which has had some unusually bad luck lately. Opportunity still hasn't made a peep, but NASA officials have expressed optimism that they could end up hearing from the venerable rover before too much longer. It's possible ancient water flows help distribute a cementing agent throughout the ridge.

Or is there something else unusual in the ridge's red rocks that makes them so strong? If all goes according to plan, Curiosity will climb off the ridge in October, headed for clay- and sulfate-bearing deposits higher up on Mount Sharp, NASA officials said.

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