In early August 2012, the NASA Curiosity rover landed on Mars at the base of Mount Sharp. Eleven years later, it has encountered the steepest slope ever recorded in this 3.5-billion-year-old crater.
In early August 2023, the NASA Curiosity rover begins its eleventh year on Mars. And eleven years of climbing to the foot of Mount Sharp, a mountain no less than three miles high, has given researchers valuable insight into how the Red Planet’s landscape has changed over time.
Over time, Curiosity has had to contend with steep slopes and rough terrain. But never before has a rover had to cross such a steep slope as it did in recent weeks on its way to an area called Jaw. 23° slope covered with slippery sand and wheel-shaped rocks. “If you’ve ever tried to run over the dune on the beach, you’ll know how tough it was for Curiosity.”said Amy Hale, one of the rover’s planners, in a NASA statement.
A revised course on the steepest slope for Curiosity
While Curiosity planners ensure that the rover is never in danger during this ascent, they recognize that unforeseen events—which they themselves describe as “defaults” There were numerous. The route was planned according to images provided by the mission Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter – something like it was planned Google Map, But this was revised when the rover approached the area and returned more accurate data – which was on par with what was offered Street View —which brought up unexpected obstacles. And prompted Curiosity to make a detour.
Curiosity offers breathtaking views of craters
Upon arriving safely, the rover returned data to researchers on the Jaw region, a region pockmarked by dozens of impact craters. It may have been formed when a meteorite broke up in the Martian atmosphere or when fragments fell from a larger, more distant impact.
After this new task is completed, Curiosity will continue its journey to a new area of Mount Sharp, which is even higher in elevation.