A false alarm went off recently when Mars Curiosity rover photographed an image of an odd, flat shaped object on the Martian surface on August 13. The object was named as Pettegrove Point Foreign Object Debris (PPFOD) as it was found at Pettegrove Point in Vera Rubin Ridge. When researchers had a close look, they discovered that it isn’t any foreign object.
At first, researchers thought that it could be a piece of debris left by Curiosity itself or any other spacecraft or even peeled off paint or masking tape but nothing sort of was found. Mars Curiosity performed chemical tests on the object using its ChemCam instrument that uses a laser and spectrometer to scan an analyze the object hoping it to be something worth examining. But later, the mission team found that this is just a flat-shaped rock lying on the Martian surface with no signs of ancient life as finding it is the objective of Curiosity.
Curiosity landed inside the Gale Crater on the Martian surface in August 2012 and has since been studying the various landforms to study if there was any ancient life on the planet. As soon as it reached Mars, it answered this very question as it found evidence stating that there were streams of liquid water a well as energy sources and all chemical building blocks needed for life billions of years ago.
Mars Curiosity rover was able to provide evidence of microbial life that the planet supported years now. It is now scaling up the Mount Sharp which is a 5.5 km tall where the rover spends plenty of time exploring the landforms and different layers of the rocks embedded under the mountain range as well as data on how and when the Martian planet went from a warm planet to a frigid desert as quoted by Live Science.
As of now, the Mars Curiosity is analyzing the atmosphere of Mars as the planet is facing a huge dust storm for the last two or more months. Since it is powered by plutonium, it has been able to provide required data about the storm from inside while the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is scanning for the same from above. Sadly, Curiosity’s cousin, Opportunity which is smaller compared to Curiosity and powered by solar energy, isn’t too lucky to escape the wrath of the dust storm as it underwent hibernation on June 10 and has since been mummed with no communication towards the Earth.
Researchers suspect that Opportunity might never wake up but now the storm is dying out, it wouldn’t be too long for us to know if the Opportunity harvest power from the sun and establishes communication with the Earth or not.