NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has successfully reached an important destination on the Red Planet called the Gediz Vallis Ridge. This ridge is believed to hold evidence of Mars’ wet past and information about ancient landslides. The formation was created by debris flows carrying mud and boulders down the side of a mountain, which eventually spread out into a towering ridge due to erosion from wind. Geologist William Dietrich stated that witnessing these events would have been incredible and studying them will help scientists better understand similar events on Earth.
Curiosity faced several challenges in reaching the Gediz Vallis Ridge. It had difficulty accessing the region after scaling a rock formation known as the Greenheugh Pediment, followed by running into knife-edged rocks referred to as “gator-back” rocks. Earlier this year, it also encountered difficulties in the Marker Band Valley. Finally, after three years, the rover managed to safely access the ridge.
During its 11-day stay at the ridge, Curiosity captured 136 images of the area using its Mastcam. These images revealed dark rocks that originated elsewhere on the mountain and smaller shards that are believed to have come from higher parts of Mount Sharp. The rover also provided scientists with up-close views of a geologic phenomenon called a “debris flow fan,” where debris spreads out in a fan shape.
Having successfully explored the Gediz Vallis Ridge, Curiosity is now heading towards a path above the ridge to investigate the watery history of Mount Sharp. This mission is part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, which has been ongoing since 2012, and has taken Curiosity to various fascinating locations on Mars.
– NASA confirms Curiosity Mars rover reached Gediz Vallis Ridge – NASA
– Curiosity Team’s Evolving View of Gale Crater’s Ancient Environment – NASA
– NASA’s Curiosity rover: The smartest car on Mars – CNET