Curiosity Reaches Martian Sand Dunes

Matthew Okrent

In early January, the Martian rover Curiosity began to explore a series of sand dunes known as the Bagnold Dunes.  These actively growing sand dunes are at the base of Mount Sharp, where the Curiosity Rover was originally supposed to explore.  These sand dunes are active, as they grow at a rate of about 3 feet per earth year, which is a little less than two Martian years.

Curiosity will be analyzing samples of sand particles and rocks from the dunes, and is the first Martian rover to reach and work within them. Recently, while trying to analyze a sample of sand from the dunes, Curiosity experienced some technical errors dealing with the rover’s mechanical arm and sieve. These errors are keeping researchers on the edges of their seats with worry, as this endeavor could lead to the answers of some questions scientists have been asking about the Mars for years, like if there was ever life on Mars.  In one sample of the sand from the dunes, there could be enough evidence to support or completely disprove the theory of life on Mars, but one mechanical error in the piloting of this rover could lead to the project’s demise.  One false move in this active Martian site could destroy the rover.  Scientists, engineers, and just general enthusiasts sit in anticipation and wait for any new reveals about the objective and its progress, or the loss of the beloved Curiosity rover.