NASA news: Curiosity Rover shows us how to self isolate with lonely pic from Mars

Most countries, particularly those in Europe which has now become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, have enforced strict isolation and social distancing guidelines to beat the spread of coronavirus. And while many of us struggle to come to grips with our new, hopefully temporary, lifestyle, NASA’s Curiosity Rover is facing no such difficulties.

The space agency has shared the latest selfie from the Curiosity Rover, which sees it standing alone on the empty landscape of the Red Planet.

The Rover took a snap of itself on the Hutton Drill Site before climbing up towards the Greenheugh pediment, setting a record for the steepest terrain it’s ever climbed.

Planetary geologist Michelle Minitti wrote in a blog post for NASA: “Kudos to our rover drivers for making it up the steep, sandy slope below the Greenheugh pediment and delivering us to a stretch of geology we had our eyes on even before we landed in Gale crater!”

The climb was difficult for the Rover, with NASA stating it took three attempts to make it up the steep incline – a 31 degree angle.

NASA said: “Curiosity finally reached the top of the slope March 6 (the 2,696th Martian day, or sol, of the mission).

“It took three drives to scale the hill, the second of which tilted the rover 31 degrees — the most the rover has ever tilted on Mars and just shy of the now-inactive Opportunity rover’s 32-degree tilt record, set in 2016. Curiosity took the selfie on Feb. 26, 2020 (Sol 2687).”

NASA has begun the process of slowing down its affairs in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has closed some of the space agency’s facilities, which could halt vital production of near missions such as the Mars 2020 Rover.

The Ames research centre in California has been closed following an onsite case of COVID-19, while all of its other facilities at “stage two” of NASA’s response framework.

Stage two sees people to work from home where possible and to cancel all meetings and visitors.

A joint mission from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos has also been postponed as COVID-19 ravages the planet.

The duo had planned to send the ExoMars 2020 rover to Mars this year, but the launch has now been postponed for two years.

This is because there are issues with some of the electronics in the robot, and a hardware concern for the solar panels.

At a normal time, this would not be an issue, but with borders being closed and countries being put on shut down, neither the engineers nor the parts are readily available.

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