‘Foreign object’ on Mars spotted by Curiosity Rover is just a rock

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Don’t fret: NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is not falling aside.

On Monday (Aug. 13), Curiosity photographed an odd, flat object that mission workforce members initially thought might need fallen off the car-size robotic. Certainly, they dubbed the weirdly formed goal the “Pettegrove Level Overseas Object Particles,” or PPFOD in NASA-speak. (Pettegrove Level is a piece of Vera Rubin Ridge, the landform Curiosity has been exploring for the final 11 months or so.)

However Curiosity’s observations quickly revealed that the PPFOD is not overseas in any respect. [Mars Illusion Photos: Seeing Things on Mars]

“The truth is, it was discovered to be a really skinny flake of rock, so we are able to all relaxation straightforward tonight — Curiosity has not begun to shed its pores and skin!” mission workforce member Brittney Cooper, an atmospheric scientist based mostly at York College in Toronto, wrote in an replace Thursday (Aug. 16).

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“Maybe the goal ought to have been given a special title befitting the theme of the present quadrangle through which Curiosity resides: ‘Rabhadh Ceàrr,’ or ‘False Alarm’ in Scottish Gaelic,” she added.

Curiosity not too long ago drilled a Pettegrove Level rock dubbed Stoer, and the rover has begun analyzing the snagged samples, Cooper wrote within the replace. The 1-ton rover has additionally been measuring the opacity of the Martian ambiance of late, serving to researchers monitor the worldwide mud storm that has been raging on the Crimson Planet for the previous two months.

The storm has begun dying down, however there’s nonetheless apparently a lot mud within the air that Curiosity’s older, smaller, solar-powered cousin, Alternative, can not harvest sufficient daylight to recharge its batteries. Alternative has been silent since June 10, and NASA officers assume the long-lived robotic put itself in a type of hibernation.

Curiosity is nuclear powered, so it is not terribly bothered by mud storms and darkness.

The $2.5 billion Curiosity mission, identified formally because the Mars Science Laboratory, launched in November 2011 and landed contained in the Crimson Planet’s 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater in August 2012. 

Curiosity was tasked with figuring out if Gale has ever been able to supporting microbial life. The rover shortly answered that query, discovering that the crater’s flooring hosted a long-lasting lake-and-stream system billions of years in the past.

Since September 2014, the rover has been exploring the foothills of Mount Sharp, the three.Four-mile-high (5.5 km) massif that rises from Gale’s Middle. Curiosity is studying the rock layers because it climbs, looking for clues about when and why Mars shifted from a comparatively heat world to the frigid desert it’s right this moment. 

Initially printed on Area.com.

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