File Photograph – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is seen on the website from which it reached right down to drill right into a rock goal referred to as ‘Buckskin’ on decrease Mount Sharp on this low-angle self-portrait taken August 5, 2015 and launched August 19, 2015. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Handout
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has halted its trek up a mountain crammed with probably liveable niches for all times whereas engineers troubleshoot an issue with considered one of its key devices, scientists stated on Tuesday.
Curiosity landed on Mars 4 years in the past to find out if the planet most like Earth within the photo voltaic system ever had the components for all times. To reply the query, Curiosity has been drilling into rocks and chemically analyzing the samples.
Drilling operations have been suspended nevertheless because of a suspected drawback with the instrument’s motor, undertaking scientist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Ashwin Vasavada advised reporters on the American Geophysical Union convention in San Francisco.
The issue first appeared a few week in the past, Vasavada stated. Challenge engineers thought that they had resolved it, however the issues cropped again up, he stated.
“If we will’t transfer the drill bit down, there’s no drilling,” Vasavada stated. “There isn’t any option to sugar-coat that one.”
The issue comes as scientists are starting to glimpse a historical past of Mars replete with life-pleasant, water-wealthy environments and intriguing chemistry, together with the primary detection of the factor boron.
Scientists consider boron might have led to the formation of the sugar ribose and ribonucleic acid, or RNA, which is current in all dwelling cells on Earth.
The concentrations of boron are growing as Curiosity ascends Mount Sharp, a three-mile (5-km) mound of sediment rising from the ground of Gale Crater, the place the rover made a daring sky crane-touchdown in August 2012.
Scientists have discovered that the crater was full of water a number of occasions in its historical past.
Curiosity is at present in an space generally known as the Murray Formation, situated about 656 ft (200 meters) above the place the rover landed. That span represents tens of tens of millions to tons of of hundreds of thousands of years of geologic time, stated California Institute of Know-how geologist John Grotzinger.
“It seems that this Murray Formation is basically type of a bonanza of all of the issues we meant to review once we picked the touchdown website,” Grotzinger stated.
“We see all the properties in place that we wish to affiliate with habitability. There’s truly nothing actually excessive right here, for probably the most half, so that is all excellent for habitability over very lengthy durations of time,” he added.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz in San Francisco; Modifying by Curtis Skinner)