#NASA #Mars – Nasa’s Curiosity rover captures stunning 360-degree view ‘bidding goodbye’ to scenic in Mars : Since the rover first landed on Mars in August 2012, it has taken more than 180,000 images. Its recent self-portrait was created with images captured near the base of one of the Murray Buttes, where it drilled on Sept 18th for a sample of rock powder.
Bits of the sample have since been delivered to the rover’s internal laboratory for analysis. Curiosity has also obtained a panoramic view of the region, using its Mastcam’s left-eye camera to capture a last look at this site.
‘Bidding goodbye to ‘Murray Buttes,’ Curiosity’s assignment is the ongoing study of ancient habitability and the potential for life,’ says Curiosity Program Scientist Michael Meyer at Nasa Headquarters in Washington.
‘This mission, as it explores the succession of rock layers, is reading the ‘pages’ of Martian history – changing our understanding of Mars and how the planet has evolved. Curiosity has been and will be a cornerstone in our plans for future missions.’
The rover recently drilled a site known as the Murray formation, a layer roughly 600 feet thick. The investigation so far has revealed it is mostly made of mudstone, from mud accumulations in an ancient lake.
Curiosity has climbed almost half of the Murray formation, and researchers hope to see it explore the upper region during its extended mission. ‘We will see whether that record of lakes continues further,’ Vasavada said.
‘The more vertical thickness we see, the longer the lakes were present, and the longer havitable conditions existed here. Did the ancient environment change over time? Will the type of evidence we’ve found so far transition to something else?’
‘The Hematite and Clay units likely indicate different environments from the conditions recorded in older rock beneath them and different from each other. It will be interesting to see whether either or both were habitable environments.’ Source: dailymail