Saturday, February 22, 2014

Crossing the Dingo Gap on Mars

 An important threshold on Mars has now been crossed. Landing in mid-2012, the Curiosity rover is searching for clues of whether life could ever have existed on the red planet. Recent findings of Curiosity include evidence for an ancient (but now dried) freshwater lake, and the non-detection of the biomarker methane in the Martian atmosphere. To continue its investigation, the car-sized rover is on an expedition to roll up Mt. Sharp, the central peak of the large crater in which it landed. Life might have shown preference for water that once ran down the Martian mountain. Two weeks ago, to avoid more dangerous and rocky terrain, Curiosity was directed to roll across a one-meter high sand dune that blocked a useful entrance to Mt. Sharp. Just after the short trip over Dingo Gap was successful, the robotic rover took the above image showing the now-traversed sand mound covered with its wheel tracks.  These pictures, as sharp and clear as they can be, are simply amazing.


  1. If there is a key to the mystery of life on Mars, it's to be found embedded in ice that is hundreds of meters deep at the caps beneath a few meters of dirt and crusty frost. Because I'm close to this exploration through people I work with, the matter becomes clearer.