Porous Martian Mountain!

Like many things in space, the planet Mars has been a point of interest for many since its discovery long ago. Some even believe that it could one day be a place for the human race to relocate. Curiosity, a rover launched back in November of 2011, has been exploring the surface of mars for about 6 years now. Originally its purpose was to establish if microbes could be supported by the environmental conditions present on Mars. More recently, however, gravity measurements on Aeolis Mons, a Martian mountain located in the Gale crater, have been taken by Curiosity in order to come closer to determining how the mountain was formed.

By NASA. Source: The New York Times – Curiosity rover in the Gale crater
This image was captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It shows part of Curiosity's path, past the Bagnold dunes in Gale Crater, through the Murray formation at the base of Mt. Sharp, and up the bottom slope of Mt. Sharp. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
By NASA. Source: Universe Today – Shows part of Curiosity’s Path through the Gale crater and up the bottom slope of Aeolis Mons

Gravimetry is the measurement changes in gravitational fields. Realizing that the accelerometers on Curiosity, originally intended to track the rover’s tilt, could also be used to calculate the change in the gravitational field of the Martian mountain was the catalyst for this new mission. As Curiosity traversed Aeolis Mons, the gravimetric measurements suggested that the mountain rock is porous. This data implies that the Gale crater actually was not filled to the brim with sediment, the previous Aeolis Mons formation theory, since porous rocks could not have upheld all the weight without compression. The findings do support previous theories in some aspect though. It seems that the mountain rock was just buried by either less dense material or not much material. Even so, this still adds to the mystery of the mountains formation. More questions have emerged because of this new research, but a valuable piece of the puzzle has been added.

More can be found on the research here!

2 thoughts on “Porous Martian Mountain!

  1. This is a topic that can be very dense but you did a great job at breaking it down. I have been following Curiosity for a while now, I learned from space.com that Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector runs for 15 minutes every hour to measure a swath of radiation on the ground and in the atmosphere. What a hardworking machine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It still baffles me how much equipment these machines carry. The fact that they do so many things in addition to their original mission is astounding, and the science behind their creation is ever more mind-boggling.


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