How Nasa's Curiosity rover weighed a mountain on Mars

With some technical improvisation, scientists work out that Mount Sharp is surprisingly light

A self-portrait taken in June last year by Nasa's Curiosity rover at the Gale crater, at the centre of which stands Mount Sharp, a mound rising more than 4.8km high.
A self-portrait taken in June last year by Nasa's Curiosity rover at the Gale crater, at the centre of which stands Mount Sharp, a mound rising more than 4.8km high.PHOTO: NYTIMES

A mountain on Mars that is almost as tall as Mount Denali in Alaska appears to be surprisingly light, scientists have reported.

For more than four years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (Nasa) Curiosity rover has been exploring Mount Sharp, located within an ancient meteor impact crater known as Gale and rising more than 4.8km high. Now, measurements of tiny changes in gravity, recorded by the rover as it climbed in elevation, could help solve the question of how the mountain formed.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'How Nasa's Curiosity rover weighed a mountain on Mars'. Subscribe