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Tags: nasa | curiosity | mars | water | rover | ridge | mount sharp

NASA's Curiosity Reaches Mars Ridge Shaped by Water

By    |   Tuesday, 19 September 2023 09:46 PM EDT

In a triumph of persistence and ingenuity, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has defied adversity to conquer a formidable Martian ridge.

Approximately three billion years ago, during the waning phases of Mars' last significant wet epoch, a series of forceful debris flows orchestrated the transport of mud and substantial boulders down the slopes of a massive Martian mountain, according to NASA.

These cascading debris torrents disseminated across the landscape, forming an expansive fan-like deposit that would succumb to the Martian winds' erosive forces over the eons.

This relentless process of wind-driven erosion sculpted the once sprawling deposit into a commanding ridge, safeguarding a testament to the aqueous history of the Red Planet.

Since 2014, the rover has been ascending the lower reaches of the 3-mile-tall (5 kilometers) Mount Sharp. Curiosity has unearthed compelling evidence of ancient lakes and meandering streams, offering invaluable insights into Mars' ancient hydrological history.

This mountain is akin to a geological tome, with its distinct layers serving as chapters recounting different Martian evolution epochs. As Curiosity continues its ascent, each layer yields fresh revelations about the evolving Martian landscape.

Among the most recent geological formations encountered by Curiosity on Mount Sharp is the Gediz Vallis Ridge. This youthful feature is a captivating time capsule of Mars' recent history, according to Axios.

The ascent to reach the Gediz Vallis Ridge was one of Curiosity's most formidable challenges, spanning several months of relentless effort.

"After three years, we finally found a spot where Mars allowed Curiosity to safely access the steep ridge," said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. "It's a thrill to be able to reach out and touch rocks that were transported from places high up on Mount Sharp that we'll never be able to visit with Curiosity."

While negotiating an incline with an angle of 23 degrees, the rover grappled with terrain characterized by slippery sand and boulders nearly equal in size to its wheels. This feat of mobility underscored the rover's unwavering determination and the technical prowess of the NASA team guiding it.

The rover commemorated its 11th year of operation on the Martian surface last month.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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In a triumph of persistence and ingenuity, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has defied adversity to conquer a formidable Martian ridge.
nasa, curiosity, mars, water, rover, ridge, mount sharp
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2023-46-19
Tuesday, 19 September 2023 09:46 PM
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