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Curiosity recently saw a small rock feature in the Gale crater on Mars, which has been explored since 2012.
The small hard curve is only about 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) high, but its unique shape excited scientists on this trip.
Written by Abigail Freeman, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Charter A blog about this feature: “I’m still impressed with the objects we see, especially the centimeter exteriors and clusters sticking out of the rock.”
The arch is located at the foot of Mount Sharp, 3.4 miles (5.5 km) above the ground in the Gale Valley. According to Freeman, Curiosity explores some interesting geography in the transition between layers of heavy clay and sulfate-rich layers of rock.
Sulfates can be released by running water, so exploring these sulfate-bearing layers will help reveal more about Mars’ wet past.
Curiosity was originally designed for a two-year journey to Mars, but the SUV-sized robot has been orbiting the galaxy for nine years, taking selfies and making scientific discoveries.
Most recently, scientists analyzing data sent by Curiosity realized that the mud on the gale line was less stable than previously thought, meaning that evidence of past microbial life in the area had been destroyed. However, the destroyed salts may have supported new life beneath the surface, so scientists are even more excited about the possibility of finding Mars fossils if they exist.
Source: Direct Science