After 4.5 years, 16.2 km of driving and 1679 martian days (sols) the Curiosity Rover has reached the point here we are starting to leave the Bagnold dunes in Gale Crater. We have driven parallel to these basaltic dunes for the first part of the mission then cut through them at the Bagnold crossing. The next big milestone will be Hematite Ridge (now renamed Vera Rubin Ridge after the famous astronomer who predicted dark matter) in the lower slopes of Aeolis Mons (Mt. Sharp). Hematite has been predicted from orbital, near infrared spectroscopy and hints at a change in palaeoenvironmental conditions from the reducing groundwater recorded in the mudstone to a near-surface weathering environment.
This blog is a record of my experiences and work during the Mars Science Laboratory mission, from the preparation, landing on August 5th 2012 Pacific Time, and onwards... I will also post updates about our other Mars work on meteorites, ExoMars and new missions. You can also follow the planetary science activities with @LeicsPlanets Professor John Bridges, Leicester Institute for Space and Earth Observation, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy (PS. Previous posts in this blog can be found at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/physics/research/src/res/planetary-science/mslblog)