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To mark its 10 years on Mars, Curiosity offers itself a new exploration zone

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The rover, which had a scheduled lifespan of two years when it arrived on Mars on August 6, 2012, is playing overtime: in April, its activity was once again extended by NASA until September 2025.

For this new period of his life Martian, the robot is about to discover a region whose soil is essentially composed of sulphates, which it has not yet studied.

This zone, which we see a lot on Mars, marks a climatic transition towards the aridity and the drying out that we now knowexplains Olivier Gasnault, scientist in charge, France, of ChemCam, a Franco-American instrument onboard Curiosity.

Curiosityand that was one of the objectives of the mission, is that Mars was habitable for a simple form of life”,”text”:”The main conclusion that can be drawn from the studies carried out by Curiosity, and c was one of the objectives of the mission is that Mars was habitable for a simple form of life”}}”>The main conclusion that can be drawn from the studies carried out by Curiosityand that was one of the goals of the mission is that Mars was habitable for a simple life formrejoices Valérie Mousset, project manager of theMars Science Laboratory“,”text”:”Mars Science Laboratory”}}’>Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity at the National Center for Space Studies (CNES), From toulouse.

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There was liquid and stable water, and the presence of the molecules necessary for microbiological lifeshe adds.

In the footsteps of a disappeared canal

At a slower pace in order to spare its capacities, the rover advances towards an 800 m wide valley at the bottom of which the scientists think they can glimpse the remains of a canal. We wonder if this is not one of the last flows on Marssays Mr. Gasnault, who hopes to verify this hypothesis.

Three hundred people in France have been involved since the start in the project of this rover which has traveled 28 km and climbed 600 meters of altitude difference since its arrival on Martian soil.

Curiosity allowed a change of scale in planetary exploration, by bringing a small laboratory on site, but also to establish strategies and ask the right questions for the next missions”,”text”:”Curiosity allowed a change of scale in planetary exploration, by bringing a small laboratory on site, but also to establish strategies and ask the right questions for the next missions”}}”>Curiosity allowed a change of scale in planetary exploration, by bringing a small laboratory on site, but also to establish strategies and ask the right questions for the next missionsexplained Mr. Gasnault in the premises of CNESa few days before the 10e anniversary of the robot landing.

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The scientist cites the example of SuperCamanother tool built with the participation of the CNESthanks to everything we learned to make it a better instrument.

Artistic illustration showing Perseverance's SuperCam on the surface of Mars.

Illustration of the Perseverance SuperCam in action.

Photo: NASA/CALTECH

This device on board Perseverance, the last robot to arrive on Mars in 2021, is capable of analyzing the chemical elements likely to form minerals, but it was also able to record the first Martian sounds in May 2021, while maintaining high maneuverability.

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