Curiosity explores the path through the sand dunes
If you remember, the main reason for stopping the Spirit rover was the sands in which this rover was stuck (this happened at Gusev Crater). So, the Curiosity chassis was designed taking into account previous mistakes, and this rover seems to be able to ride on the sand without any problems. In any case, it was previously thought. And now there is an opportunity to verify this statement.
The Curiosity project team decided to test the strength of the rover in overcoming the sand dunes, fortunately, next to it there is just a suitable place. This is a place that NASA gave the name Dingo Gap, here is a photo from January 28, where one dune is clearly visible (photo taken from a distance of 35 meters).
The height of the dune is about 1 meter, and behind it, scientists suggest, there may be a fairly convenient “road” along which the rover will reach Mount Sharpe.
Here is a photograph taken already in the immediate vicinity of the dune, in fact, the rover drove to the very edge of the dune, in order to get a clear image of this object, and give scientists the opportunity to figure out what's what.
It has not yet been decided exactly whether the rover will “go ahead” through the Dingo Gap, but this option is currently one of the main ones. If it is decided to send the rover through the dunes, then experts will first see how the model of the rover on Earth in the laboratory “behaves” in similar conditions, and then Curiosity itself will be sent along a new path.
It is worth noting that since the first of January of this year, the rover has already overcome 264.7 meters, heading to Mount Sharpe - one of its main goals. For the entire stay on Mars, Curiosity completed 4.89 kilometers. This, of course, is less than in the case of Opportunity, but still - a solid achievement.
Well, we will expect developments, see if NASA will direct its rover directly through the dunes, or whether an alternative path will be chosen.