Author Topic: Mars Rover Curiosity  (Read 46306 times)

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #195 on: November 03, 2016, 07:54:10 AM »

Curiosity Rover Finds and Examines a Meteorite on Mars
The dark, smooth-surfaced rock at the center of this Oct. 30, 2016, image from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover was examined with laser pulses and confirmed to be an iron-nickel meteorite. It is about the size of a golf ball. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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11.02.2016
Curiosity Mars Rover Checks Odd-looking Iron Meteorite

Laser-zapping of a globular, golf-ball-size object on Mars by NASA's Curiosity rover confirms that it is an iron-nickel meteorite fallen from the Red Planet's sky.
Iron-nickel meteorites are a common class of space rocks found on Earth, and previous examples have been seen on Mars, but this one, called "Egg Rock," is the first on Mars examined with a laser-firing spectrometer. To do so, the rover team used Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument.

Scientists of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project, which operates the rover, first noticed the odd-looking rock in images taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) at at a site the rover reached by an Oct. 27 drive.

"The dark, smooth and lustrous aspect of this target, and its sort of spherical shape attracted the attention of some MSL scientists when we received the Mastcam images at the new location," said ChemCam team member Pierre-Yves Meslin, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), of France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse, France.

ChemCam found iron, nickel and phosphorus, plus lesser ingredients, in concentrations still being determined through analysis of the spectrum of light produced from dozens of laser pulses at nine spots on the object. The enrichment in both nickel and phosphorus at some of the same points suggests the presence of an iron-nickel-phosphide mineral that is rare except in iron-nickel meteorites, Meslin said.
Iron meteorites typically originate as core material of asteroids that melt, allowing the molten metal fraction of the asteroid's composition to sink to the center and form a core.

"Iron meteorites provide records of many different asteroids that broke up, with fragments of their cores ending up on Earth and on Mars," said ChemCam team member Horton Newsom of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. "Mars may have sampled a different population of asteroids than Earth has."

In addition, the study of iron meteorites found on Mars -- including examples found previously by Mars rovers -- can provide information about how long exposure to the Martian environment has affected them, in comparison with how Earth's environment affects iron meteorites. Egg Rock may have fallen to the surface of Mars many millions of years ago. Researchers will be analyzing the ChemCam data from the first few laser shots at each target point and data from subsequent shots at the same point, to compare surface versus interior chemistry.

Egg Rock was found along the rover's path up a layer of lower Mount Sharp called the Murray formation, where sedimentary rocks hold records of ancient lakebed environments on Mars. The main science goal for Curiosity's second extended mission, which began last month, is to investigate how ancient environmental conditions changed over time. The mission has already determined that this region once offered conditons favorable for microbial life, if any life ever existed on Mars.

Curiosity was launched five years ago this month, on Nov. 26, 2011, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It landed inside Gale Crater, near the foot of Mount Sharp, in August 2012.

The rover remains in good condition for continuing its investigations, after working more than twice as long as its originally planned prime mission of about 23 months, though two of its 10 science instruments have recently shown signs of potentially reduced capability. The neutron-generating component of Curiosity's Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument, designed for working through the prime mission, is returning data showing reduced voltage. Even if DAN could no longer generate neutrons, the instrument could continue to check for water molecules in the ground by using its passive mode. The performance of the wind-sensing capability from Curiosity's Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) is also changing, though that instrument still returns other Mars-weather data daily, such as temperatures, humidity and pressure. Analysis is in progress for fuller diagnosis of unusual data from DAN, which was provided by Russia, and REMS, provided by Spain.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, developed ChemCam in partnership with scientists and engineers funded by the French national space agency (CNES). Mastcam was built by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science MIssion Directorate, Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://mars.nasa.gov/msl

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #196 on: November 03, 2016, 07:55:53 AM »


Quote
11.02.2016
Iron-Nickel Meteorite Zapped by Mars Rover's Laser

The dark, golf-ball-size object in this composite, colorized view from the ChemCam instrument on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is a nickel-iron meteorite, as confirmed by analysis using laser pulses from ChemCam on Oct. 30, 2016. The grid of bright spots on the rock resulted from the laser pulses.

The dark, golf-ball-size object in this composite, colorized view from the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a grid of shiny dots where ChemCam had fired laser pulses used for determining the chemical elements in the target's composition.

The analysis confirmed that this object, informally named "Egg Rock," is an iron-nickel meteorite. Iron-nickel meteorites are a common class of space rocks found on Earth, and previous examples have been found on Mars, but Egg Rock is the first on Mars to be examined with a laser-firing spectrometer.

The laser pulses on Oct. 30, 2016, induced bursts of glowing gas at the target, and ChemCam's spectrometer read the wavelengths of light from those bursts to gain information about the target's composition. The laser pulses also burned through the dark outer surface, exposing bright interior material. This view combines two images taken later the same day by ChemCam's remote micro-imager (RMI) camera, with color added from an image taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam).

Figure A includes annotation labels for the nine points targeted with the laser and is presented without added color.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, developed ChemCam in partnership with scientists and engineers funded by the French national space agency (CNES), the University of Toulouse and the French national research agency (CNRS). More information about ChemCam is available at http://www.msl-chemcam.com/ .
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #197 on: December 15, 2016, 03:39:37 PM »
Great overview...  8)

http://mars.nasa.gov/news/2016/mars-rock-ingredient-stew-seen-as-plus-for-habitability&s=1

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Mars Rock-Ingredient Stew Seen as Plus for Habitability



FAST FACTS:

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is finding patterns of change in rock composition at higher, younger layers of a mountain.
-- Ancient Mars sedimentary basins with groundwater were chemically active, a factor favorable for possible life.
-- Curiosity found boron on Mars, a first for this very soluble element.
NASA's Curiosity rover is climbing a layered Martian mountain and finding evidence of how ancient lakes and wet underground environments changed, billions of years ago, creating more diverse chemical environments that affected their favorability for microbial life.
Hematite, clay minerals and boron are among the ingredients found to be more abundant in layers farther uphill, compared with lower, older layers examined earlier in the mission. Scientists are discussing what these and other variations tell about conditions under which sediments were initially deposited, and about how groundwater moving later through the accumulated layers altered and transported ingredients.
Effects of this groundwater movement are most evident in mineral veins. The veins formed where cracks in the layers were filled with chemicals that had been dissolved in groundwater. The water with its dissolved contents also interacted with the rock matrix surrounding the veins, altering the chemistry both in the rock and in the water.


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This pair of drawings depicts the same location on Mars at two points in time: now and billions of years ago. The location is in Gale Crater, near the Red Planet's equator. Since August 2012, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission has been investigating rock layers in the crater floor and in the crater's central peak (Mount Sharp) for information recorded in the rocks about ancient environmental conditions and how they changed over time.

"There is so much variability in the composition at different elevations, we've hit a jackpot," said John Grotzinger, of Caltech in Pasadena, California. He and other members of Curiosity's science team presented an update about the mission Tuesday, Dec. 13, in San Francisco during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. As the rover examines higher, younger layers, researchers are impressed by the complexity of the lake environments when clay-bearing sediments were being deposited, and also the complexity of the groundwater interactions after the sediments were buried.
'CHEMICAL REACTOR'

Late 2016 Map of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Mission

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LATE 2016 MAP OF NASA'S CURIOSITY MARS ROVER MISSION
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the location where it landed in August 2012 to its location in December 2016, which is in the upper half of a geological unit called the Murray Formation, on lower Mount Sharp.

"A sedimentary basin such as this is a chemical reactor," Grotzinger said. "Elements get rearranged. New minerals form and old ones dissolve. Electrons get redistributed. On Earth, these reactions support life."
Whether Martian life has ever existed is still unknown. No compelling evidence for it has been found. When Curiosity landed in Mars' Gale Crater in 2012, the mission's main goal was to determine whether the area ever offered an environment favorable for microbes.
The crater's main appeal for scientists is geological layering exposed in the lower portion of its central mound, Mount Sharp. These exposures offer access to rocks that hold a record of environmental conditions from many stages of early Martian history, each layer younger than the one beneath it. The mission succeeded in its first year, finding that an ancient Martian lake environment had all the key chemical ingredients needed for life, plus chemical energy available for life. Now, the rover is climbing lower on Mount Sharp to investigate how ancient environmental conditions changed over time.



"We are well into the layers that were the main reason Gale Crater was chosen as the landing site," said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Joy Crisp of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California. "We are now using a strategy of drilling samples at regular intervals as the rover climbs Mount Sharp. Earlier we chose drilling targets based on each site's special characteristics. Now that we're driving continuously through the thick basal layer of the mountain, a series of drill holes will build a complete picture."
Four recent drilling sites, from "Oudam" this past June through "Sebina" in October, are each spaced about 80 feet (about 25 meters) apart in elevation. This uphill pattern allows the science team to sample progressively younger layers that reveal Mount Sharp's ancient environmental history.

CHANGING ENVIRONMENTS

One clue to changing ancient conditions is the mineral hematite. It has replaced less-oxidized magnetite as the dominant iron oxide in rocks Curiosity has drilled recently, compared with the site where Curiosity first found lakebed sediments. "Both samples are mudstone deposited at the bottom of a lake, but the hematite may suggest warmer conditions, or more interaction between the atmosphere and the sediments," said Thomas Bristow of NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. He helps operate the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) laboratory instrument inside the rover, which identifies minerals in collected samples.



Chemical reactivity occurs on a gradient of chemical ingredients' strength at donating or receiving electrons. Transfer of electrons due to this gradient can provide energy for life. An increase in hematite relative to magnetite indicates an environmental change in the direction of tugging electrons more strongly, causing a greater degree of oxidation in iron.
Another ingredient increasing in recent measurements by Curiosity is the element boron, which the rover's laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument has been detecting within mineral veins that are mainly calcium sulfate. "No prior mission has detected boron on Mars," said Patrick Gasda of the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. "We're seeing a sharp increase in boron in vein targets inspected in the past several months." The instrument is quite sensitive; even at the increased level, boron makes up only about one-tenth of one percent of the rock composition.

'DYNAMIC SYSTEM'

Boron is famously associated with arid sites where much water has evaporated away -- think of the borax that mule teams once hauled from Death Valley. However, environmental implications of the minor amount of boron found by Curiosity are less straightforward than for the increase in hematite.



Scientists are considering at least two possibilities for the source of boron that groundwater left in the veins. Perhaps evaporation of a lake formed a boron-containing deposit in an overlying layer, not yet reached by Curiosity, then water later re-dissolved the boron and carried it down through a fracture network into older layers, where it accumulated along with fracture-filling vein minerals. Or perhaps changes in the chemistry of clay-bearing deposits, such as evidenced by the increased hematite, affected how groundwater picked up and dropped off boron within the local sediments.
"Variations in these minerals and elements indicate a dynamic system," Grotzinger said. "They interact with groundwater as well as surface water. The water influences the chemistry of the clays, but the composition of the water also changes. We are seeing chemical complexity indicating a long, interactive history with the water. The more complicated the chemistry is, the better it is for habitability. The boron, hematite and clay minerals underline the mobility of elements and electrons, and that is good for life."



Curiosity is part of NASA's ongoing Mars research and preparation for a human mission to Mars in the 2030s. Caltech manages JPL, and JPL manages the Curiosity mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more about Curiosity, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #198 on: January 18, 2017, 09:02:47 AM »
Mars Rover Curiosity Examines Possible Mud Cracks



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Scientists used NASA's Curiosity Mars rover in recent weeks to examine slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that likely originated as cracks in drying mud.
"Mud cracks are the most likely scenario here," said Curiosity science team member Nathan Stein. He is a graduate student at Caltech in Pasadena, California, who led the investigation of a site called "Old Soaker," on lower Mount Sharp, Mars.

If this interpretation holds up, these would be the first mud cracks -- technically called desiccation cracks -- confirmed by the Curiosity mission. They would be evidence that the ancient era when these sediments were deposited included some drying after wetter conditions. Curiosity has found evidence of ancient lakes in older, lower-lying rock layers and also in younger mudstone that is above Old Soaker.
"Even from a distance, we could see a pattern of four- and five-sided polygons that don't look like fractures we've seen previously with Curiosity," Stein said. "It looks like what you'd see beside the road where muddy ground has dried and cracked."
The cracked layer formed more than 3 billion years ago and was subsequently buried by other layers of sediment, all becoming stratified rock. Later, wind erosion stripped away the layers above Old Soaker. Material that had filled the cracks resisted erosion better than the mudstone around it, so the pattern from the cracking now appears as raised ridges.

The team used Curiosity to examine the crack-filling material. Cracks that form at the surface, such as in drying mud, generally fill with windblown dust or sand. A different type of cracking with plentiful examples found by Curiosity occurs after sediments have hardened into rock. Pressure from accumulation of overlying sediments can cause underground fractures in the rock. These fractures generally have been filled by minerals delivered by groundwater circulating through the cracks, such as bright veins of calcium sulfate.

Both types of crack-filling material were found at Old Soaker. This may indicate multiple generations of fracturing: mud cracks first, with sediment accumulating in them, then a later episode of underground fracturing and vein forming.
"If these are indeed mud cracks, they fit well with the context of what we're seeing in the section of Mount Sharp Curiosity has been climbing for many months," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "The ancient lakes varied in depth and extent over time, and sometimes disappeared. We're seeing more evidence of dry intervals between what had been mostly a record of long-lived lakes."

Besides the cracks that are likely due to drying, other types of evidence observed in the area include sandstone layers interspersed with the mudstone layers, and the presence of a layering pattern called cross-bedding. This pattern can form where water was flowing more vigorously near the shore of a lake, or from windblown sediment during a dry episode.
Scientists are continuing to analyze data acquired at the possible mud cracks and also watching for similar-looking sites. They want to check for clues not evident at Old Soaker, such as the cross-sectional shape of the cracks.
The rover has departed that site, heading uphill toward a future rock-drilling location. Rover engineers at JPL are determining the best way to resume use of the rover's drill, which began experiencing intermittent problems last month with the mechanism that moves the drill up and down during drilling.

Curiosity landed near Mount Sharp in 2012. It reached the base of the mountain in 2014 after successfully finding evidence on the surrounding plains that ancient Martian lakes offered conditions that would have been favorable for microbes if Mars has ever hosted life. Rock layers forming the base of Mount Sharp accumulated as sediment within ancient lakes billions of years ago.
On Mount Sharp, Curiosity is investigating how and when the habitable ancient conditions known from the mission's earlier findings evolved into conditions drier and less favorable for life. For more information about Curiosity, visit:
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl



In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #199 on: February 09, 2017, 08:05:47 AM »
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2017/nasas-curiosity-rover-sharpens-paradox-of-ancient-mars

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NASA's Curiosity Rover Sharpens Paradox of Ancient Mars

Fast Facts:
-- Curiosity rover findings add to a puzzle about ancient Mars because the same rocks that indicate a lake was present also indicate there was very little carbon dioxide in the air to help keep a lake unfrozen.
-- No carbonate has been found definitively in rock samples analyzed by Curiosity.
-- A new study calculates how much carbon dioxide could have been in the ancient atmosphere without resulting in carbonate detectable by the rover: not much.

Mars scientists are wrestling with a problem. Ample evidence says ancient Mars was sometimes wet, with water flowing and pooling on the planet’s surface. Yet, the ancient sun was about one-third less warm and climate modelers struggle to produce scenarios that get the surface of Mars warm enough for keeping water unfrozen.
A leading theory is to have a thicker carbon-dioxide atmosphere forming a greenhouse-gas blanket, helping to warm the surface of ancient Mars. However, according to a new analysis of data from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, Mars had far too little carbon dioxide about 3.5 billion years ago to provide enough greenhouse-effect warming to thaw water ice.
The same Martian bedrock in which Curiosity found sediments from an ancient lake where microbes could have thrived is the source of the evidence adding to the quandary about how such a lake could have existed. Curiosity detected no carbonate minerals in the samples of the bedrock it analyzed. The new analysis concludes that the dearth of carbonates in that bedrock means Mars' atmosphere when the lake existed -- about 3.5 billion years ago -- could not have held much carbon dioxide.

"We've been particularly struck with the absence of carbonate minerals in sedimentary rock the rover has examined," said Thomas Bristow of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. "It would be really hard to get liquid water even if there were a hundred times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than what the mineral evidence in the rock tells us." Bristow is the principal investigator for the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument on Curiosity and lead author of the study being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Curiosity has made no definitive detection of carbonates in any lakebed rocks sampled since it landed in Gale Crater in 2012. CheMin can identify carbonate if it makes up just a few percent of the rock. The new analysis by Bristow and 13 co-authors calculates the maximum amount of carbon dioxide that could have been present, consistent with that dearth of carbonate.
In water, carbon dioxide combines with positively charged ions such as magnesium and ferrous iron to form carbonate minerals. Other minerals in the same rocks indicate those ions were readily available. The other minerals, such as magnetite and clay minerals, also provide evidence that subsequent conditions never became so acidic that carbonates would have dissolved away, as they can in acidic groundwater.
The dilemma has been building for years: Evidence about factors that affect surface temperatures -- mainly the energy received from the young sun and the blanketing provided by the planet's atmosphere -- adds up to a mismatch with widespread evidence for river networks and lakes on ancient Mars. Clues such as isotope ratios in today's Martian atmosphere indicate the planet once held a much denser atmosphere than it does now. Yet theoretical models of the ancient Martian climate struggle to produce conditions that would allow liquid water on the Martian surface for many millions of years. One successful model proposes a thick carbon-dioxide atmosphere that also contains molecular hydrogen. How such an atmosphere would be generated and sustained, however, is controversial.
The new study pins the puzzle to a particular place and time, with an on-the-ground check for carbonates in exactly the same sediments that hold the record of a lake about a billion years after the planet formed.
For the past two decades, researchers have used spectrometers on Mars orbiters to search for carbonate that could have resulted from an early era of more abundant carbon dioxide. They have found far less than anticipated. 

"It's been a mystery why there hasn't been much carbonate seen from orbit," Bristow said. "You could get out of the quandary by saying the carbonates may still be there, but we just can't see them from orbit because they're covered by dust, or buried, or we're not looking in the right place. The Curiosity results bring the paradox to a focus. This is the first time we've checked for carbonates on the ground in a rock we know formed from sediments deposited under water."
The new analysis concludes that no more than a few tens of millibars of carbon dioxide could have been present when the lake existed, or it would have produced enough carbonate for Curiosity's CheMin to detect it. A millibar is one one-thousandth of sea-level air pressure on Earth. The current atmosphere of Mars is less than 10 millibars and about 95 percent carbon dioxide.
"This analysis fits with many theoretical studies that the surface of Mars, even that long ago, was not warm enough for water to be liquid," said Robert Haberle, a Mars-climate scientist at NASA Ames and a co-author of the paper. "It's really a puzzle to me."

Researchers are evaluating multiple ideas for how to reconcile the dilemma.
"Some think perhaps the lake wasn't an open body of liquid water. Maybe it was liquid covered with ice," Haberle said. "You could still get some sediments through to accumulate in the lakebed if the ice weren't too thick."
A drawback to that explanation is that the rover team has sought and not found in Gale Crater evidence that would be expected from ice-covered lakes, such as large and deep cracks called ice wedges, or "dropstones," which become embedded in soft lakebed sediments when they penetrate thinning ice.
If the lakes were not frozen, the puzzle is made more challenging by the new analysis of what the lack of a carbonate detection by Curiosity implies about the ancient Martian atmosphere.

"Curiosity's traverse through streambeds, deltas, and hundreds of vertical feet of mud deposited in ancient lakes calls out for a vigorous hydrological system supplying the water and sediment to create the rocks we're finding," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Carbon dioxide, mixed with other gases like hydrogen, has been the leading candidate for the warming influence needed for such a system. This surprising result would seem to take it out of the running."
When two lines of scientific evidence appear irreconcilable, the scene may be set for an advance in understanding why they are not. The Curiosity mission is continuing to investigate ancient environmental conditions on Mars. It is managed by JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Curiosity and other Mars science missions are a key part of NASA's Journey to Mars, building on decades of robotic exploration to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.
For more about Curiosity, visit:
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #200 on: February 28, 2017, 09:20:22 AM »
Curiosity films a Dust Devil... Check it out!



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02.27.2017
Martian Dust Devil Action in Gale Crater, Sol 1597
This sequence of images shows a dust-carrying whirlwind, called a dust devil, scooting across the ground inside Gale Crater, as observed on the local summer afternoon of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover's 1,597th Martian day, or sol (Feb. 1, 2017).

Set within a broader southward view from the rover's Navigation Camera, the rectangular area outlined in black was imaged multiple times over a span of several minutes to check for dust devils. Images from the period with most activity are shown in the inset area. The images are in pairs that were taken about 12 seconds apart, with an interval of about 90 seconds between pairs. Timing is accelerated and not fully proportional in this animation.

A dust devil is most evident in the 10th, 11th and 12th frames. In the first and fifth frames, dust blowing across the ground appears as pale horizontal streak. Contrast has been modified to make frame-to-frame changes easier to see. A black frame is added between repeats of the sequence.

On Mars as on Earth, dust devils are whirlwinds that result from sunshine warming the ground, prompting convective rising of air that has gained heat from the ground. Observations of Martian dust devils provide information about wind directions and interaction between the surface and the atmosphere.

Curiosity's Sol 1597 location, reached by a drive during the previous sol, is mapped at http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/2017/curiositys-traverse-map-through-sol-1596.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #201 on: February 28, 2017, 09:24:05 AM »
Laser hits on sand dune... ouch...  8)

In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #202 on: February 28, 2017, 09:42:27 AM »
Love the dust devil footage!


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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #203 on: March 22, 2017, 11:11:28 AM »
03.21.2017
Breaks Observed in Rover Wheel Treads

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MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY MISSION STATUS REPORT
A routine check of the aluminum wheels on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has found two small breaks on the rover's left middle wheel-the latest sign of wear and tear as the rover continues its journey, now approaching the 10-mile (16 kilometer) mark.

The mission's first and second breaks in raised treads, called grousers, appeared in a March 19 image check of the wheels, documenting that these breaks occurred after the last check, on Jan. 27.
"All six wheels have more than enough working lifespan remaining to get the vehicle to all destinations planned for the mission," said Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "While not unexpected, this damage is the first sign that the left middle wheel is nearing a wheel-wear milestone,"

The monitoring of wheel damage on Curiosity, plus a program of wheel-longevity testing on Earth, was initiated after dents and holes in the wheels were seen to be accumulating faster than anticipated in 2013. Testing showed that at the point when three grousers on a wheel have broken, that wheel has reached about 60 percent of its useful life. Curiosity already has driven well over that fraction of the total distance needed for reaching the key regions of scientific interest on Mars' Mount Sharp.

Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, also at JPL, said, "This is an expected part of the life cycle of the wheels and at this point does not change our current science plans or diminish our chances of studying key transitions in mineralogy higher on Mount Sharp."
Curiosity is currently examining sand dunes partway up a geological unit called the Murray formation. Planned destinations ahead include the hematite-containing "Vera Rubin Ridge," a clay-containing geological unit above that ridge, and a sulfate-containing unit above the clay unit.

The rover is climbing to sequentially higher and younger layers of lower Mount Sharp to investigate how the region's ancient climate changed billions of years ago. Clues about environmental conditions are recorded in the rock layers. During its first year on Mars, the mission succeeded at its main goal by finding that the region once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, if Mars has ever hosted life. The conditions in long-lived ancient freshwater Martian lake environments included all of the key chemical elements needed for life as we know it, plus a chemical source of energy that is used by many microbes on Earth.

Through March 20, Curiosity has driven 9.9 miles (16.0 kilometers) since the mission's August 2012 landing on Mars. Studying the transition to the sulfate unit, the farthest-uphill destination, will require about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) or less of additional driving. For the past four years, rover drive planners have used enhanced methods of mapping potentially hazardous terrains to reduce the pace of damage from sharp, embedded rocks along the rover's route.

Each of Curiosity's six wheels is about 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide, milled out of solid aluminum. The wheels contact ground with a skin that's about half as thick as a U.S. dime, except at thicker treads. The grousers are 19 zigzag-shaped treads that extend about a quarter inch (three-fourths of a centimeter) outward from the skin of each wheel. The grousers bear much of the rover's weight and provide most of the traction and ability to traverse over uneven terrain.

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's rover, Curiosity. For more information about the mission, visit:
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/



Quote
Break in Raised Tread on Curiosity Wheel

Two of the raised treads, called grousers, on the left middle wheel of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover broke during the first quarter of 2017, including the one seen partially detached at the top of the wheel in this image from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover's arm.

This image was taken on March 19, 2017, as part of a set used by rover team members to inspect the condition of the rover's six wheels during the 1,641st Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars.

Holes and tears in the wheels worsened significantly during 2013 as Curiosity was crossing terrain studded with sharp rocks on the route from near its 2012 landing site to the base of Mount Sharp. Team members have used MAHLI systematically since then to watch for when any of the zig-zag shaped grousers begin to break. The last prior set of wheel-inspection images from before Sol 1641 was taken on Jan. 27, 2017, (Sol 1591) and revealed no broken grousers.

Longevity testing with identical aluminum wheels on Earth indicates that when three grousers on a given wheel have broken, that wheel has reached about 60 percent of its useful life. Curiosity has driven well over 60 percent of the amount needed for reaching all the geological layers planned as the mission's science destinations, so the start of seeing broken grousers is not expected to affect the mission's operations.

As with other images from Curiosity's cameras, all of the wheel-inspection exposures are available in the raw images collections at http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/.

Curiosity's six aluminum wheels are about 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide. Each of the six wheels has its own drive motor, and the four corner wheels also have steering motors.

MAHLI was built by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover. More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/.



In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #204 on: April 24, 2017, 08:13:18 AM »
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #205 on: May 16, 2017, 01:46:34 PM »
http://www.space.com/36841-mars-rover-curiosity-computer-glitch-60-minutes.html


Quote
A Glitch Nearly Killed NASA's Curiosity Rover After 6 Months on Mars
By Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer | May 15, 2017 12:08pm ET

The Mars rover Curiosity's groundbreaking mission came within an hour of ending just six months after touchdown, according to a report that aired last night (May 14) on the TV news show "60 Minutes."

In February 2013, a memory problem with Curiosity's main computer, also known as the pilot, forced mission team members to switch to the identical backup computer, or co-pilot. The swap worked, and the car-size robot resumed full science operations a few weeks later.

But the computer issue was far scarier than this breezy recap would suggest, according to the "60 Minutes" segment on CBS.

The pilot was supposed to recognize the problem on its own and cede control to the co-pilot automatically, said Rob Manning, chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which manages Curiosity's mission. This didn't happen, however; the pilot acted like it had developed "an attitude," Manning told "60 Minutes" reporter Bill Whitaker.

"When we told it to go take a nap, it refused to take a nap," Manning said. "Then it refused to take pictures. Then it refused to do more science throughout the day. It just stopped doing these things. And we said, 'What the heck is going on?'

"Time is running out, because in an hour it's going to turn its radio off and stay off forever, and we'll lose this very expensive rover," he added. (The total cost of Curiosity's mission is about $2.5 billion, NASA officials have said.)

So Curiosity's handlers beamed a command to shut down the pilot, figuring that the co-pilot would then take over.

"We're waiting for the co-pilot to wake up and then turn on its radio to let us know that it was alive," Manning told Whitaker. "We should get a signal. Nothing. Another minute goes by. Nothing. Four minutes go by. Now we're starting to get really worried that maybe — "

"Sounds like a movie," Whitaker interjected.

"It really was," Manning said. "Yeah, it was getting nerve-wracking. And bing, there was the signal. And the backup pilot was obviously in charge."

The backup remains in charge to this day, though engineers have managed to fix the pilot, Manning said.

Curiosity touched down inside the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater on the night of Aug. 5, 2012, tasked with determining if the area has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.

The rover's work near its landing site allowed mission researchers to announce, in March 2013, that Gale Crater was indeed habitable billions of years ago. Further observations by Curiosity have revealed that the crater harbored lake-and-stream systems that persisted for long stretches in the ancient past — perhaps millions of years at a time.

Since September 2014, Curiosity has been exploring the foothills of Mount Sharp, which rises more than 3 miles (5 km) into the Martian sky from Gale's center. The rover is reading the rock layers as it climbs, looking for clues about how, why and when Mars transitioned from a relatively warm and wet world to the cold and dry planet it is today.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #206 on: May 19, 2017, 08:54:57 AM »
Just thought this was a cool set of pictures...  8)










In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

spuwho

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #207 on: May 19, 2017, 12:08:04 PM »
Looks like some dried out creek bed in Wyoming.

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #208 on: June 01, 2017, 07:38:55 AM »
Looks like some dried out creek bed in Wyoming.

Yes it does... see the next post... VVV
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #209 on: June 01, 2017, 07:56:32 AM »
Quote
'High-Silica 'Halos' Shed Light on Wet Ancient Mars'
05.30.2017



Pale "halos" around fractures in bedrock analyzed by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover contain copious silica, indicating that ancient Mars had liquid water for a long time.
"The concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos," said Jens Frydenvang, a rover-team scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "What we’re seeing is that silica appears to have migrated between very old sedimentary bedrock and into younger overlying rocks."
Frydenvang is the lead author of a report about these findings published in Geophysical Research Letters.
NASA landed Curiosity on Mars in 2012 with a goal to determine whether Mars ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. The mission "has been very successful in showing that Gale Crater once held a lake with water that we would even have been able to drink from, but we still don’t know how long this habitable environment endured," he said. "What this finding tells us is that, even when the lake eventually evaporated, substantial amounts of groundwater were present for longer than we previously thought -- further expanding the window for when life might have existed on Mars."

http://www.lanl.gov/discover/news-release-archive/2017/May/0530-halos-discovered-on-mars.php?source=newsroom

Quote
Migrating silica reveals liquid water lingered longer on Red Planet
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., May 30, 2017—

Lighter-toned bedrock that surrounds fractures and comprises high concentrations of silica—called “halos”—has been found in Gale crater on Mars, indicating that the planet had liquid water much longer than previously believed. The new finding is reported in a paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

“The concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos,” said Jens Frydenvang, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Copenhagen and lead author of the paper. “What we’re seeing is that silica appears to have migrated between very old sedimentary bedrock and into younger overlying rocks. The goal of NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has been to find out if Mars was ever habitable, and it has been very successful in showing that Gale crater once held a lake with water that we would even have been able to drink, but we still don’t know how long this habitable environment endured. What this finding tells us is that, even when the lake eventually evaporated, substantial amounts of groundwater were present for much longer than we previously thought—thus further expanding the window for when life might have existed on Mars.”

Whether this groundwater could have sustained life remains to be seen. But this new study buttresses recent findings by another Los Alamos scientist who found boron on Mars for the first time, which also indicates the potential for long-term habitable groundwater in the planet’s past.

The halos were analyzed by the rover’s science payload, including the laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in conjunction with the French space agency. Los Alamos’ work on discovery-driven instruments like ChemCam stems from the Laboratory’s experience building and operating more than 500 spacecraft instruments for national security.

Curiosity has traveled more than 16 km over more than 1,700 sols (martian days) as it has traveled from the bottom of Gale crater part way up Mount Sharp in the center of the crater. Scientists are using all the data collected by ChemCam to put together a more complete picture of the geological history of Mars.

The elevated silica in halos was found over approximately 20 to 30 meters in elevation near a rock-layer of ancient lake sediments that had a high silica content. “This tells us that the silica found in halos in younger rocks close by was likely remobilized from the old sedimentary rocks by water flowing through the fractures,” said Frydenvang. Specifically, some of the rocks containing the halos were deposited by wind, likely as dunes. Such dunes would only exist after the lake had dried up. The presence of halos in rocks formed long after the lake dried out indicates that groundwater was still flowing within the rocks more recently than previously known.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."