Spotting rippled rock textures on Mars means something big! There is a possibility that lakes do exist in an area of ancient Mars. Scientists thought there might not be any lakes on Mars left with water. But with this mission, the research team was able to discover Mars’ watery past clues.  The research team thought they’d seen the last evidence of lakes covering this region of Mars when NASA’s Curiosity rover reached the “sulfate-bearing unit” last fall. This is due to the fact that the rock layers here formed in drier environments than the regions known earlier in the mission. Sulfates, or salty minerals, are thought to have been left behind when the area’s water dried to a trickle.

When Curiosity’s team found the mission’s most evident proof then they were taken aback. Ancient water ripples formed within lakes on the surface of a shallow lake stirred up residue billions of years ago.

“Ashwin Vasavada” is Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. He says, “This is the best evidence of water and waves that we’ve seen in the entire mission,”. Moreover, he says: “We climbed through thousands of feet of lake deposits and never saw evidence like this – and now we found it in a place we expected to be dry.”

Layers of History!

Curiosity has been climbing the 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain since 2014. Mount Sharp was once polluted with lakes and streams that would have provided a rich environment for microbial life if any ever existed on Mars.


In Mount Sharp, the oldest layers are at the bottom and the youngest layers are at the top. The rover continues to climb up and moves along a Martian timeline. This is allowing scientists to study how Mars evolved from a more Earth-like planet. With a warmer climate and abundant water in its ancient past to the freezing desert it is today.

In search of Mars’ watery past, Curiosity found these rock textures kept nearly a half-mile above the mountain’s base in what’s known as the “Marker Band”. It is a thin layer of dark rock that stands out from the rest of Mount Sharp. Despite several attempts, Curiosity has not been able to drill a sample from this rock layer. Curiosity had to try three times before finding a soft enough spot to drill on “Vera Rubin Ridge” lower down the mountain.

In the coming week, scientists will be looking for softer rock. Even if they have yet to get a sample from this unusual strip of rock, they have other locations in mind.

Martian Clues!

Scientists can see another clue to the history of Mars’ ancient water in a valley called Gediz Vallis, which is far ahead of the Marker Band. The valley was carved by wind, but a channel runs through it. And begins higher up on Mount Sharp is thought to have been eroded by a small river. Scientists believe wet landslides occurred here as well, sending car-sized boulders and debris to the valley floor.

It’s obvious that the debris pile at the top of Mount Sharp is one of the more recent features. This is because it rests on top of all the other layers in the valley. Last year, Curiosity saw this debris twice at Gediz Vallis Ridge. However, it could only observe it distantly. Later this year, the rover team hopes to have another opportunity to see it.

The Marker band has captured the team’s interest in a peculiar rock texture. This was probably brought on by some kind of cyclical pattern in the climate or weather, like dust storms. Rocks with layers that are uniform in their thickness and spacing are nearby the rippling textures. This type of rhythmic pattern in Earth’s rock layers frequently results from atmospheric phenomena that take place at regular intervals. It’s conceivable that similar processes led to the rhythmic patterns in these Martian rocks, suggesting that the planet’s ancient temperature may have changed.

The Curiosity’s project scientist Ashwin Vasavada says: “The wave ripples, debris flows, and rhythmic layers all tell us that the story of wet-to-dry on Mars wasn’t simple,” Moreover, he says about Mars’ watery past. “Mars’ ancient climate had a wonderful complexity to it, much like Earth’s.”

Mars watery past clues


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Cacao, an iron-nickel space rock, is about 1 foot (0.3 meters) wide. Another metallic meteorite on Mars has been discovered by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

On February 2, Curiosity team members on Tweets. The team describes the structure meteorite and announced its name in the tweet. According to the tweet Cacao is about 1 foot (0.3 meters) wide. It consists primarily of iron and nickel.

When did Curiosity go to Mars?

In August 2012, the car-sized rover “Curiosity” landed on Mars’ 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer) Gale Crater, on a mission to determine whether the area could have supported Earth-like life long ago.

Curiosity research and findings have helped the research team to answer a lot of questions. One of which is demonstrating that Gale once hosted a potentially habitable lake-and-stream system. Furthermore, this watershed likely lasted for millions of years, possibly allowing time for the emergence of Martian microbes. Curiosity also finds a metallic meteorite on Mars.

The rover is not specifically looking for evidence of past or present microbial life on Mars. However, Curiosity’s cousin Perseverance, which landed in a different Mars crater in February 2021, is searching for life and collecting dozens of samples for future return to Earth.

What is the current status of the Curiosity rover?

Curiosity has been climbing the flanks of Mount Sharp, a massive massif that rises about 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the sky from Gale’s center, since September 2014.

The rover recently reached sulfate-rich veins that started in fairly dry situations, marking a significant breakthrough on this journey.

Curiosity has been observing specific rocks and the metallic meteorite on Mars. These observations may improve scientists’ understanding of Gale Crater and Mars. They aim to learn when and how Mars transformed from a warm and wet environment to a freezing desert. This information is provided by members of the Curiosity mission team.

According to the report, Curiosity has so far driven 18.31 miles (29.47 km) on Mars. Several other metallic meteorites have been discovered by the car-size rover during its grand space journey, as the research team noted in several other photo-filled tweets on Thursday.

Tweets on metallic meteorite on Mars!

Along with a photo of the Curiosity team wrote on Twitter: “We’re calling it ‘Cacao,’ “.

Thursday’s Tweet says: “Here’s another meteorite I found in 2016. It’s called ‘Egg Rock,’ aka the golf ball,” Another Thursday tweet reads: “And while my team calls this 7-foot-long meteorite ‘Lebanon,’ I call it THE BEAST,”

On May 2014 Curiosity discovered Lebanon or The Beast. However, NASA didn’t release images of the massive rock until July of that year. Curiosity discovered the Beast and two nearby stones as the first Metallic meteorite on Mars.


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After it began the construction of the first mars sample depot took less than six weeks to complete its mission. At Southern California in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the mission controllers received confirmation that the Perseverance Mars rover successfully dropped the 10th and final tube planned for the depot around 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST) Sunday, Jan. 29.

How is this going to help in the research of Mars?

This big achievement was all thanks to precise planning and navigation. This ensures that the tubes could be safely returning back in the future. The NASA-ESA (European Space Agency) Mars rover Sample Return campaign, aims to bring samples from Mars to Earth. This will be very essential for closer examination. Which is going to help in studying Mars’s habitat.

The Perseverance rover’s WATSON camera took this image. It is the 10th and last tube to be deployed during the creation of the first mars sample depot on another world, on Jan. 28, 2023, the 690th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

During its science campaigns, the rover has collected a pair of samples from rocks regarded as scientifically substantial by the mission team. Scientists have stored one sample from each pair in the organized depot in the “Three Forks” region of Jezero Crater. The depot samples serve as backup. The other half remains inside Perseverance.

One sample from each pair collected thus far is now stored in the nicely organized depot in the “Three Forks” region of Jezero Crater. The Mars sample depot samples will be very useful as a backup set. While the other half will be kept inside Perseverance. This will be the primary means of transporting samples to a Sample Retrieval Lander as part of the campaign.

According to mission scientists, the igneous and sedimentary rock cores will be very beneficial. It will provide an excellent sample of the geologic processes that occurred in Jezero shortly after the crater’s formation about 4 billion years ago.

The rover also left an atmospheric sample and a “witness” tube. This will help to see if the samples being collected are contaminated with materials carried by the rover from Earth.

The “Witness” tube!

The titanium tubes are put on the surface in an intricate zigzag pattern. Each sample spaces about 15 to 50 feet (5 to 15 meters) apart to ensure a safe return. The team must precisely map the location of each 7-inch-long (18.6-centimeter-long) tube and glove (adapter) combination. So that the samples could be found even if covered in dust. However, this was time-consuming in the depot-creation process. On the flat ground near the base of an ancient river delta. This was formed long ago when a river flowed into a lake where the Mars sample depot is located.

Passing the Rocky Top outcrop marks the end of the rover’s Delta Front Campaign because of the geologic transition that occurs at that level. And also the beginning of the rover’s Delta Top Campaign.

Curvilinear Unit:

One of the first stops the Mars rover will make during the new science campaign will be at a location  “Curvilinear Unit” by the science team. The unit, which is essentially a Martian sandbar, is made of sediment that was deposited ages ago in a bend in one of Jezero’s inflowing river channels. The science team believes the Curvilinear Unit will be an excellent location for searching for intriguing sandstone and possibly mudstone outcrops, as well as gaining insight into the geological processes occurring beyond the walls of Jezero Crater.

This map shows where NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover dropped 10 samples so that a future mission could pick them up. After more than five weeks of work, the sample depot was completed Jan. 28, 2023, the 690th day, or sol, of the mission.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This map shows where NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover dropped 10 samples so that a future mission could pick them up. It took more than five weeks of work, the mars sample depot on Jan. 28, 2023, the 690th day, or sol, of the mission.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

What are Rick Welch and Ken Farley’s remarks about this milestone?

Rick Welch is the deputy project manager of JPL. He says that “With the Three Forks depot in our rearview mirror, Perseverance is now headed up the delta,”. Moreover, he said: “We’ll make our ascent via the ‘Hawksbill Gap’ route we previously explored. Once we pass the geologic unit the science team calls ‘Rocky Top,’ we will be in new territory and begin exploring the Delta Top.”

Perseverance project scientist at Caltech “Ken Farley” said: “We found that from the base of the delta up to the level where Rocky Top is located, the rocks appear to have been deposited in a lake environment,”. Moreover, he said: “And those just above Rocky Top appear to have been created in or at the end of a Martian river flowing into the lake. As we ascend the delta into a river setting, we expect to move into rocks that are composed of larger grains – from sand to large boulders. Those materials likely originated in rocks outside Jezero, eroded, and washed into the crater.”


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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) agreed to work together to demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket engine in space on Tuesday, which will help the NASA crew in the research mission of Mars. Both parties will agree on the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations, or DRACO, program. This will help both parties speed up their development and progress.

How is this going to help in Space Mission?

This program will be beneficial in making it safer for astronauts. By using the nuclear thermal rocket, space travel time will be much reduced. And reducing transit time will help NASA’s Mars mission crew. Covering long space trips as well as longer trips demands more energy and robust systems. This program is going to be very vital for the Mars mission crew.

This is going to benefit space travel by increasing science payload capacity. The fission reactor in the nuclear thermal rocket engine creates a very high temperature. The nozzle of the spacecraft then expels this heat energy. Nuclear thermal rockets can be very much more efficient than conventional chemical propulsion.

According to this agreement, the technical development of the nuclear thermal engine that will be connected with DARPA’s experimental spacecraft will be spearheaded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). The development of the complete stage and engine, which includes the reactor, is being handled by DARPA in its capacity as the contracting authority.

DARPA will oversee the entire program, including the integration and procurement of rocket systems. Moreover, approvals, scheduling, and security, as well as safety and liability coverage will also be included. It will also oversee the complete assembly and integration of the engine with the spacecraft. NASA and DARPA will work together throughout the development process. In order to assemble the machine in time for the in-space demonstration as early as 2027.

About 50 years ago, NASA’s Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application and Rover projects conducted another thermal rocket engine test.

What do experts say about this agreement?

Bill Nelson:

NASA’s Administrator “Bill Nelson,” said: “NASA will work with our long-term partner, DARPA, to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology as soon as 2027. With the help of this new technology, astronauts could journey to and from deep space faster than ever – a major capability to prepare for crewed missions to Mars,”. Moreover, he added: “Congratulations to both NASA and DARPA on this exciting investment, as we ignite the future, together.”

Pamela Melroy:

NASA Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy says about this mission: “NASA has a long history of collaborating with DARPA on projects that enable our respective missions, such as in-space servicing,” Moreover, he said: “Expanding our partnership to nuclear propulsion will help drive forward NASA’s goal to send humans to Mars.”

Stefanie Tompkins:

The director of DARPA “Dr. Stefanie Tompkins” have said about this collaboration: “DARPA and NASA have a long history of fruitful collaboration in advancing technologies for our respective goals, from the Saturn V rocket that took humans to the Moon for the first time to robotic servicing and refueling of satellites,” Moreover he stated: “The space domain is critical to modern commerce, scientific discovery, and national security. The ability to accomplish leap-ahead advances in space technology through the DRACO nuclear thermal rocket program will be essential for more efficiently and quickly transporting material to the Moon and eventually, people to Mars.”

Jim Reuter:

An associate administrator for STMD “Jim Reuter” said: “With this collaboration, we will leverage our expertise gained from many previous space nuclear power and propulsion projects,” Moreover he stated: “Recent aerospace materials and engineering advancements are enabling a new era for space nuclear technology, and this flight demonstration will be a major achievement toward establishing a space transportation capability for an Earth-Moon economy.”

NASA and the DOE!

NASA, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the industry are working on developing an advanced pace nuclear technology. This will help to reduce power consumption in space exploration missions. DOE has already suggested three commercial designs to build nuclear power plants.

NASA and DOE are working on another project to design advanced higher-temperature fission fuels and reactor designs. Which is a vital element of a nuclear thermal propulsion engine. Both parties are still working on developing a longer-range goal for increased engine performance that will not be used for the DRACO engine.


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