More than ten months have passed since Mars rover Curiosity set ‘foot’ on the red planet Mars. The rover’s final destination on Mars is the Mount Sharp. Now, after spending ten long months on Mars, wandering around, Curiosity is preparing to set off for its final journey – to Mount Sharp.
Mount Sharp is Curiosity’s primary mission. The mountain is 5.5-kilometer (18,000 feet) high that rises from the floor of Gale Crater — the 96-mile crater on which the Mars rover landed 10 months ago. At this moment, Curiosity is still in Glenelg in order to perform brief observations on three more targets there. After finishing that work, the rover will set out for Mount Sharp.
The distance between Curiosity’s current position in Glenelg crater and Mount Sharp is five-mile. To set off towards Mount Sharp, NASA first wanted to test out if all of the rover’s instruments were working fine since its landing. Withing this 10 months, NASA’s rover has faced many problems with its instruments, but NASA has fixed those issues. But why would NASA need to test Curiosity before it sets out for Mount Sharp?
Curiosity has already found strong evidence that Mars could have supported life in distant past. On the other side, another rover on Mars, Opportunity, has found ‘drinkable’ water on Mars. Considering the scenario, NASA believes that Mars has a lot to tell us about itself. However, the sediments and rocks at Mount Sharp have many different layers, which can give us a lot of insight into Mars’ history. NASA hopes that these layers could reveal a lot of secrets of Mars. And to reveal the secrets, Curiosity might have to drill the layers, sediments and rocks as it did before. And for that, Curiosity needs to be prepared fully.
According to NASA, Curiosity is now “absolutely fine” and hence NASA is “finally ready” to “drive it to Mount Sharp.” In fact, NASA wants to gather as much data as possible before the Mars rover runs out of juice. It would take around four months to reach the base of Mount Sharp as soon as Curiosity starts its journey towards Mount Sharp.
Source: Extreme Tech