After more than a year spent in the region, NASA’s Curiosity rover has departed from the Red Planet’s Vera Rubin Ridge and is now making its way toward Mount Sharp. The departure was marked by a selfie at Vera Rubin Ridge’s “Rock Hall” drill site, according to NASA, which published an image of the area on Monday. The upcoming new project will help shed light on Mars’ history.
Curiosity rover arrived at Mars’ Vera Rubin Ridge in September 2017, where it has spent more than a year helping researchers seek answers about the planet. Among other things, Curiosity drilled multiple samples, the 19th of which was acquired from the Rock Hall drill site on December 15, 2018.
The rover’s team is ready to explore elsewhere, and so the Vera Rubin Ridge project has ended and a new one in the Mount Sharp region is in the pipeline. Before undertaking its latest trip, though, the rover snapped 57 individual images using its Mars Hand Lens Imager camera.
NASA stitched these images together to reveal a final selfie at the ridge, this one featuring the Rock Hall drill hole near the rover’s wheels. According to the space agency, the Mars environment looks dustier than usual because of a dust storm currently happening at that particular location.
Now that its Vera Rubin Ridge work has ended, Curiosity will head toward a “clay bearing unit” south of the ridge heading toward Mount Sharp. The rover will study the soil in this area, which contains minerals possibly offering clues about lakes that existed in the region during Mars’ ancient past.