Curiosity Reaches Expansive Dune Field at Base of Mount Sharp

Curiosity Reaches Expansive Dune Field at Base of Mount Sharp

NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached a huge field of rippled sand dunes that are located at the base of Mount Sharp that range up to two stories tall. The rover has started the first ever close investigation of currently active sand dunes beyond earth.

These dark dunes, named as the ‘Bagnold Dunes’, are spread all round the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp and lie on the alien road of Curiosity’s daring trek up the lower portion of the layered Martian mountain.

Curiosity on December 14 explored a spectacular spot named ‘Namib Dune’. According to scientists associated with the mission, ascending and exploring the sedimentary lower layers of Mount Sharp, which are almost 3.4 miles tall, is the most important goal of the rover’s long-term expedition on the Red Planet.

Curiosity first arrived on a spot of the rippled surface informally named ‘High Dune’ by the team of scientists and engineers leading Curiosity’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Mission on Mars.

MSL science team member Lauren Edger, Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, said, “The science and engineering team are excited about the opportunity to study active dunes on another planet”.

According to the team, the dunes are active and have been determined to migrate up to about one yard or meter per year. These finding were made after studying the data gathered by NASA’s Red Planet orbiter fleet – including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Curiosity has to safely cross the expansive dune field before even it starts to climb Mount Sharp, said researchers.


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