In just a few weeks’ time, the Perseverance rover and its helicopter companion might blast off to space and make their way to Mars. That doesn’t mean Curiosity will no longer be in the picture, though — in fact, the older rover has just started its mile-long summer journey towards its next destination. The Curiosity rover’s next stop is Mount Sharp’s “sulfate-bearing unit.” Since, here on Earth, sulfates usually form around water as it evaporates, the data the rover gathers could give us a clue on how the Martian climate and its prospects for life has changed over the past 3 billion years.
Curiosity has been investigating Mount Sharp’s clay-rich environment since early 2019, providing information to scientists looking into whether the former watery environment could have supported ancient microbes. The rover is now leaving that clay-rich environment behind. To be able to reach its goal, though, it has to drive around a patch of sand to avoid getting stuck.