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从好奇号的视野一览火星全景

Renae Reints 2018年10月01日

火星车好奇号不久前拍摄的火星表面的全景照片, 满足了人类的好奇心。

NASA好奇号火星车自2012年以来在火星坑坑洼洼的表面缓慢前进, 目前捕捉到了火星表面的全景照片, 满足了人类的好奇心,揭开了火星的神秘面纱。NASA的博文称这幅照片中 “一场全球范围的沙尘暴声势渐息,棕褐色的天空在沙尘中更显昏暗。”

照片下方可以看到好奇号的身影,外壳上覆盖着一层沙尘。它的搭档机遇号在星球的另一边被困在同一场沙尘暴中,但据Gizmodo报道,那边的情况要恶劣得多。

NASA的操作员将机遇号调至休眠状态以节省电力,因为天空中厚厚的沙尘导致机遇号的太阳能板无法充电。现在无法确定什么时候机遇号才会苏醒甚至是否还会苏醒,但与此同时好奇号却做出了一些成绩。

火星的全景照拍摄于8月9日,显示好奇号位于“维拉鲁宾山脊”(Vera Rubin Ridge)。好奇号项目的科学家阿斯温·瓦萨瓦达在NASA的喷气推进实验所说,这座山脊的岩石成分十分丰富多元。

“这座山脊不是单一结构,它由截然不同的两部分组成,每一部分各自拥有多种色彩。”瓦萨瓦达在NASA的博文中说道。“其中一些肉眼可见,在近红外光谱中能显现出更多肉眼无法看到的部分,还有一些似乎说明了山脊岩石之所以十分坚硬的原因。”

不久前,好奇号才刚刚获得了一份岩石样本,它之前的两次钻井都没成功,因此这算是小小的胜利。NASA在报告中说,之前的钻井因为“没有预料到岩石如此坚硬”受阻,但对这份样本的分析能够帮助他们明确“山脊中到底是哪种成分让它如此‘坚固’,能够抵御风蚀作用。”

瓦萨瓦达说,远古时代的地下水流动可能起到了加固岩石的作用。山脊中富含赤铁矿这种水中常见的矿物质,含量之高,导致它“像香饽饽一样吸引了NASA火星探测器的注意”,NASA说。但如需确定岩石硬度高的原因,还需进行更多研究。

你可以在YouTube上使用“360度成像”(360-degree imaging)功能仔细观察好奇号拍摄的全景图片。(财富中文网)

 

译者:Agatha

NASA’s Curiosity rover, chugging along the rocky surface of Mars since 2012, has captured a panorama image of the planet’s surface, providing a mesmerizing look into the rover’s environment. A NASA blog post describes the image as including “umber skies, darkened by a fading global dust storm.”

The rover itself is visible at the bottom of the image, showing a layer of dust on its surface. Curiosity’s complement, Opportunity, got caught in the same dust storm on the other side of the planet, where conditions were much worse, Gizmodo reports.

NASA operatives put Opportunity into hibernation mode to conserve energy, since the dusty skies prevented its solar panels from being able to charge. It’s uncertain when, or if, Opportunity will become active again, but Curiosity is doing some good work in the meantime.

The panorama image of Mars, captured on August 9, shows Curiosity’s location at Vera Rubin Ridge. According to Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the ridge’s rock composition is uniquely diverse.

“The ridge isn’t this monolithic thing—it has two distinct sections, each of which has a variety of colors,” Vasavada said in a NASA blog post. “Some are visible to the eye and even more show up when we look in near-infrared, just beyond what our eyes can see. Some seem related to how hard the rocks are.”

Curiosity grabbed a rock sample just before taking the panorama image, a small victory considering its past two drill attempts were not successful. “Unexpectedly hard rocks” thwarted the previous attempts, NASA reports, but an analysis of this rock sample can help them determine “what’s acting as ‘cement’ in the ridge, enabling it to stand despite wind erosion.”

According to Vasavada, groundwater flowing in a far-away past could have helped strengthen the rock. The ridge contains a lot of hematite, a mineral found in water, so much so that “it drew the attention of NASA orbiters like a beacon,” says NASA. More studies are required to determine the cause of the rocks’ strength with certainty.

You can take a closer look at Curiosity’s panorama using a 360-degree imaging experience provided by YouTube.

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