“For the first time, we can trace the evolution of the Martian climate over several million years”

“For the first time, we can trace the evolution of the Martian climate over several million years”
“For the first time, we can trace the evolution of the Martian climate over several million years”
In 2012, the rover Curiosity landed on Mars. A heavy machine, weighing nearly 900 kilograms. Intended to explore a gigantic impact crater, 150 kilometers in diameter, the Gale crater. “In the center of this crater, we find vestiges of its filling by sediment. Partially eroded sedimentary rocks that form a five kilometer high mountain – Mount Sharp or Aeolis Monsand who recorded part of the history of Mars ”, explains William Rapin, researcher at the CNRS, in the introduction.

“From orbit, we already had an idea of ​​the mineral composition of the slopes of Mount Sharp. But to learn more, we had to go there. It is now done. And we were able to produce images revealing in detail the organization of the sedimentary layers and the conditions under which they were formed. “ And these change radically over the several hundred meters of depth of relief explored. Betraying climatic changes occurred in the past.

William Rapin is part of the Franco-American team that operates with the Curiosity rover. He is more exactly a specialist ininstrument ChemCam – for Chemistry Camera complet. “The particularity of this instrument – beyond the fact that it was made in France – is that it is equipped with a telescope. In principle, this is used to focus a laser to analyze rocks near the rover. But this time, we diverted the use of this telescope to record images and analyze outcrops in the landscape as Curiosity approached Mount Sharp. “

Above the lacustrine clays forming the base of Mount Sharp, large and tall crisscrossing structures are a sign of the migration of wind-blown dunes during a long & # xe9; dry climatic episode. Higher up, a fine architecture of alternately friable and resistant layers is typical of d & # xe9; p & # xf4; ts by a plain ...

Above the lacustrine clays forming the base of Mount Sharp, large and tall crisscrossing structures are the sign of the migration of dunes shaped by the wind, during a long dry climatic episode. Higher up, a fine architecture of alternately friable and resistant layers is typical of deposits by a plain …

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