The Curiosity rover has been getting lots of attention lately thanks to its first ever dust storm on Mars.
In the latest update from the mission, mission scientist Ashwin Vasavada has announced that a new dust storm was observed on the surface of Mars on October 24, 2020.
This was the fourth dust storm to be observed by the rover during the mission’s four-month stay in Gale Crater.
The rover is expected to return to the surface in March 2021.
Vasavda wrote in a post on the mission site that the storm was spotted “about 15 minutes after landing at Gale Craton, at a point that the team had determined was the highest point of the rover’s landing zone, about 5.5 meters [15 feet] high.”
The team expected to have an opportunity to use its Mastcam to document the dust storm before the rover arrived, but they decided to wait until it was clear.
“We wanted to give the mission the best opportunity to document and analyze the storm,” Vasavadas team said in the post.
Curiosity was also able to continue the mission in Gale.
On October 31, 2020, the rover landed at the landing site of the first landing target, and returned to the Gale area.
The next landing target is Mars’ north polar cap, and this will be the first opportunity for Curiosity to make a return to Earth since its first landing in 2020.
“Mars is not the only place on the planet that is being explored,” Vasapras wrote.
“A large majority of the planets in our Solar System are being explored by humans, and we’re all going to find a few surprises along the way.”
He also added that it would be a “mistake” to assume that “every planet in our solar system is the same, every place is the right place, and the Earth is the only planet that can be visited.”