NASA is celebrating the milestone of the Curiosity rover mission, which has been on the surface of the Red Planet since August 6, 2012. To date, the Curiosity probe has spent 3,000 Martian days, or “solas,” exploring Mars.
The Curiosity probe has been studying Mount Sharp, 3 kilometers high, since 2014. Scientists from the mission program discovered something interesting on the eve of the anniversary – recent photos sent back to Earth from the rover show rock formations that look like benches. The image shown above is part of a panorama Curiosity took by stitching 122 images from Nov. 18, 2020. This was the 2946th sol for Curiosity.
Such rock formations occur when soft layers are eroded away from harder rock layers on a slope. They can also form on land if large, curved slabs of bedrock slide down a slope. Similar rock formations have been observed in Gale Crater in the past, but the find seen in the latest photo is definitely in a more scenic location.
Curiosity continues its journey into 2021, passing the final days through a clay region called Glen Torridon. It also stopped briefly at a place called “Mary Anning.”
Martian days are slightly longer than Earth days by 37 minutes.