NASA’s Curiosity rover celebrated its 11th year on Mars on Aug. 5, but the indefatigable spacecraft is still pushing itself to explore the Red Planet.
curiousity It winds its way up through the foothills of Mount Sharp, a 3-mile (5-kilometer) mountain that, billions of years ago, was home to lakes and rivers.
The terrain is challenging, but the layers of the mountain provide unprecedented insights into the various eras MarsThe past and how the landscape of the planet has changed over time.
Related: Curiosity Rover: 15 amazing photos of Mars (gallery)
The endeavor recently presented Curiosity and its team of drivers, planners, engineers, and scientists with its toughest climb yet: a steep 23-degree incline covered in slippery sand and boulders the size of wheels.
Amy Hill, Curiosity rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, said in a statement. statement.
This combination of features made the rover struggle to make headway. NASA said an attempt on June 1 led the Curiosity rover unexpectedly over a rock, causing significant suspension travel and causing a safety glitch, halting the drive.
Images from the rover’s navigation cameras to publish June focused on a few rear wheels as the indefatigable Curiosity tried its way up a slippery, boulder-strewn slope.
Further faulty engines, which could be triggered by the wheels slipping too much or being lifted by rocks, led to the decision to detour into less difficult terrain about 492 feet (150 m) away.
Curiosity’s initial route was planned using orbital pictures. While NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter It can provide high-resolution images, it can’t reveal all the features and hazards hundreds of miles away on the surface below.
Therefore, rover planners and drivers use images from the navigation cameras and other cameras on the robot to calculate routes to and through hazards, optimize Curiosity’s trajectory, and protect the rover damaged wheels.
The detour added a few weeks to the trip, but with no more surprises waiting for Curiosity, the rover climbed the slope, and managed to reach an intriguing crater-filled site nicknamed “Gao.”
“It was an amazing feeling to finally get over the hills and see this amazing landscape,” said Dane Schoelen, Curiosity’s lead strategic route planning at JPL.
“I can look at images of Mars all day, so I really get a feel for the landscape,” added Sholin. “I often feel like I’m standing there next to Curiosity, looking at how far it has climbed.”
Curiosity is now continuing its climb up Mount Sharp to reach new, higher regions to investigate.
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