May 06, 2017 08:25 AM EDT
The Curiosity rover of NASA is digging Mars, with the goal of giving scientists the better understanding of the wind and land on the red planet. NASA's car-sized robotic rover took a sample of sand from a rippled dune and the rover is carrying it as it climbs uphill to its next destination on Mars Mount Sharp.
NASA's Curiosity rover took the dark sand to complete its investigation of the dunes and has somewhat analyzed it. One thing scientists are looking for is how the grains are organized, whether the winds of Mars sort grains of sand that affect the mineral compositions' distribution, which would have implications for Martian sandstones studies, NASA.Gov reported.
The winds on Mars are complicated as the linear dunes the Curiosity rover just visited are only about a mile uphill from crescent-shaped dunes. Mathieu Lapotre of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said in a statement that one difference in the conditions is the movement of the wind across the linear dunes is more complex than how the wind moves at the crescents, with more of it coming down Mount Sharp's slope.
Nevertheless, from early February through early April of 2017, NASA's Curiosity rover studied four different sites near a linear dune within the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp, Bagnold. The car-sized robotic rover arrived at a different part of Bagnold in late 2015. NASA's Curiosity rover will begin the first-ever close-up investigation of active sand dunes on the red planet, Space reported.
In spite of that, mission team members stated that the recent work of NASA's Curiosity rover at the linear-dune site should help scientists better understand how the winds of Mars sculpt the dunes into different patterns and shapes. The Curiosity has already analyzed part of the linear-dune sample by means of its on-board Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.
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