NASA's Curiosity rover is on its way to a new drill site where it resumed its science operations after it had experienced several technical issues earlier this year.
However, the car-sized explorer cannot help but pause and admire its surrounding. In a new photo, Curiosity decided to take a closer look at some Martian pebbles that look like they could be from Earth.
Pea-Sized Pebbles In Mars
A new photo posted by NASA showcases a number of rounded pebbles in various sizes, including some that look like gray peas. The tiny pebbles are reminiscent of the rocks shaped like blueberries and cannonballs that have previously been spotted on the surface of the Red Planet.
Scientists are still trying to identify the chemical makeup of these gray pea-like pebbles.
According to NASA, the image was taken on March 24, Sunday, using the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). Kevin M. Gill, who processes images for NASA, enhanced the photo to make the gray pebbles stand out.
Gill is also responsible for another stunning space photo dubbed "Jupiter Marble."
After a year of exploration, Curiosity has departed Vera Rubin Ridge. It is currently investigating a clay-bearing unit called Glen Torridon located in a trough between Vera Ridge and the rest of Mount Sharp.
Scientists believe that the site could provide new information about the ancient lakes that existed on Mars.
"In addition to indicating a previously wet environment, clay minerals are known to trap and preserve organic molecules," said Ashwin Wasavada, project scientist behind Curiosity. "That makes this area especially promising."
Curiosity Survives Technical Glitches
The rover resumed its operations after had experienced a series of technical glitches, first in February and then again earlier this month.
In an update, NASA said that the robotic explorer did another reset on March 6, triggering its safe mode. This is the second time that Curiosity experienced a computer reset this year. The first one, which happened in February, was caused by a memory issue.
To prevent any more glitches, the U.S. space agency decided to switch the rover's brain to its Side B computer.
The Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for nearly seven years now, with the primary goal of investigating whether the Red Planet once had habitable conditions that could have supported microbial life.