While we’re on Earth grappling with one of the biggest pandemics in modern memory, NASA’s Curiosity rover is still pottering around Mars, probably enjoying the serenity – just as it has been for the last eight years.
We’re still receiving great selfies from the rover, too. Just last month, on February 26, Curiosity took a selfie at the Hutton Drill Site before climbing up towards the Greenheugh pediment, setting a record for the steepest terrain it’s ever climbed.
“Kudos to our rover drivers for making it up the steep, sandy slope below the Greenheugh pediment,” writes planetary geologist Michelle Minitti in a NASA blog post, “and delivering us to a stretch of geology we had our eyes on even before we landed in Gale crater!”
It wasn’t an easy climb, though. NASA team explains that it took the little rover three attempts to scale the hill, the second attempt tilting Curiosity to a rather large 31 degree angle.
It’s unlikely that said angle would flip the rover: The wheel system on Curiosity allows it to tilt up to a precarious 45 degree angle without flipping, although even with that safety feature, it can take a few attempts if the wheels spin in place.
So, Curiosity is here, right way up, for another day. As long as its human crews on Earth can still work, it’ll keep exploring the Red Planet.
Never one to stay still for long, Curiosity is going to continue climbing the pediment, and basically enjoy the view.
“Now that we do not have a steep cliff in our front windshield, the skies stretch largely unencumbered above and around us,” explains Minitti.
“Navcam will take a 360 degree look around for dust devils on two different sols, and will acquire movies looking for clouds both in the afternoon and early morning. Mastcam and Navcam will assess the dustiness of the atmosphere by gazing across Gale crater from our great viewpoint.”