It doesn’t matter if you’re a machine on a distant planet. Sometimes you just feel compelled to play in the sand.
NASA’s Curiosity rover created this beautiful wheel track on Oct. 14. The rover can’t make sand castles, but it can use its wheels in the pursuit of planetary exploration.
“Yestersol’s drive purposely ran over a megaripple (fine grained sandy ripple with a coarser pebble coating) to create a ‘scuff’ which churned up and bisected the feature to observe any layering or material within,” wrote NASA planetary geologist Fred Calef in a Curiosity mission blog update this week.
A Twitter user tweeted a GIF showing the wheel in action, like it’s planning to bury a bone in that spot.
Mars fans are familiar with a lot of the rover’s behaviors, including Keri Bean on Twitter, selfies and close-up camera . Scuffing the ground is a rarer move. This action is done “very intentionally and carefully,” said Curiosity team member
Curiosity is taking a closer look at both the disturbed ground and the sand around it. The rover will also investigate the chemical makeup of this spot and take snapshots of its surroundings.
The rover’s aluminumon the rocky Red Planet, but they’re holding up. This successful scuff is a testament to the strength of the wheels and the rover team’s ability to delicately control a machine so far away on Mars.