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The rover is currently keeping its "eyes" on a dust event that had gone global by June 20. Flickr

Researchers have used non-science engineering data from NASA’s Curiosity rover to find Mars rocks less compacted and more porous than expected, according to researchers.

A team of researchers from the Arizona State University (ASU), including a graduate student, measured the density of rock layers in the 154-km-wide Gale Crater on Mars, Xinhua news agency reported.


The discovery gives scientists a novel technique to use in the future as the rover continues its trek across the crater and up Mount Sharp, a 4.8-km-high mountain in its centre, according to the researchers.

“What we were able to do is measure the bulk density of the material in Gale Crater,” said Travis Gabriel, the graduate student at the ASU.

He worked on computing what the grain density should be for the rocks and ancient lake bed sediments the rover has been driving over.


Google collaborated with NASA to produce Access Mars that lets users wander the actual dunes and valleys explored by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Wikimedia Commons

“Working from the rocks’ mineral abundances as determined by the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, we estimated a grain density of 2,810 kg per cubic metre,” he said.

“However, the bulk density that came out of our study is a lot less, 1,680 kg per cubic metre.”

The much lower figure shows that the rocks have a reduced density most likely resulting from the rocks being more porous, according to the research published in the journal Science.

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Planetary scientists have long debated the origin of Mount Sharp. The new findings suggest Mount Sharp’s lower layers have been compacted by only one to two km of material, much less than if the crater had been completely filled.

Curiosity landed near Mount Sharp in the Gale Crater on Mars in August 2012, and reached the base of the mountain in 2014. (IANS)


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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.

(IANS/HP)