NASA’s Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment’s potential to support life.

Curiosity encountered a hurdle last Friday, when a hiccup during boot-up interrupted its planned activities and triggered a protective safe mode. The rover was brought out of this mode on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and is otherwise operating normally, having successfully booted up over 30 times without further issues.

Throughout the weekend, Curiosity was sending and receiving technical data, communicating with the team in order to help them pinpoint the cause of the issue.

Curiosity is one of two NASA spacecraft actively studying the Martian surface. InSight, a stationary lander, reached the planet on Nov. 26; Opportunity, which ran for more than 14 years, has completed its mission.

Curiosity has been exploring a region – dubbed “Glen Torridon” – where clay minerals can be seen from orbit. Clay minerals, which form in water, are especially interesting to the rover’s science team. The rover was designed specifically to study ancient environments that could have supported life, and water plays a key role in determining that.

While the engineers address the computer reset, the science team will continue studying the images and other data that have been collected from Glen Torridon. A potential drill location has been sighted just 656 feet (200 meters) away.

SOURCES – NASA JPL

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