NASA rover spots 'whimsical' rock arch on Mars that's defying wind, dust Curiosity spotted a tiny sculptural arch resisting gravity on the red planet.

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Curiosity spotted a small sculptural arch resisting gravity on the Red Planet.

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This small, textured arch is in Gale Crater on Mars, as seen by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

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it’s part of the story welcome to mars, our series Exploring the Red Planet.

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We love to see the big natural rock arches on earth. Well, there’s a smaller version on Mars and it’s just as enjoyable. NASA’s Curiosity rover got a good look at an oddly textured rock that is resisting the forces of wind and erosion on the Red Planet.

Curiosity is exploring Gale Crater, which is home to an impressive mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover took some close-up views of the dainty, ragged arch last week, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill put the images together in a mosaic scene.

NASA planetary geologist Abigail Freeman described the sight in the Rover Mission Update as “a particularly whimsical image of an interesting rock texture.” “I continue to be dazzled by the textures we’re seeing, especially the prevalence of centimeter-sized bumps and knots protruding out from the base,” Freiman said.

The rover is currently “investigating a transitional zone between”soil-bearing unit“(area rich in clay minerals) and”sulfate-bearing unit(Gypsum and Epsom salts are examples of sulfates. Both point to a potentially water past in the region and are of interest to scientists as to whether Mars may have once been habitable to microbial life.

The field of view for the arc images is only 6.5 inches (16.5 cm), which means the entire formation is quite small. According to planetary geologist Michele Minitti, the delicate arch is probably made of a material that is resistant to erosion. Gale Crater is a dusty and windy place and the rocky landscape shows signs of it.

Martian geologist Gwénaël Caravaca commented on the arc on Twitter, adding that it can be viewed as a snake, hornet or a DNA strain.

Seeing familiar shapes in random objects is a favorite pastime of Mars fans, as followers of the rover’s sibling vehicle Perseverance are well aware of a recent scene of the humorous nickname “butt crack rock

Curiosity has been exploring Gale Crater since 2012. The arch reveals that there are still plenty of visual and geologic wonders to uncover for the veteran rover as it makes its way to the base of Mount Sharp.

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