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Community => Science and Technology => Topic started by: BridgeTroll on August 06, 2012, 07:52:10 AM

Title: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 06, 2012, 07:52:10 AM
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20120806/DA0FQ2R00.html

Quote
Touchdown: NASA rover Curiosity lands on Mars
 
Aug 6, 6:50 AM (ET)

By ALICIA CHANG
 
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - In a show of technological wizardry, the robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater for the most ambitious dig yet into the red planet's past.

Cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory late Sunday after the most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built signaled it had survived a harrowing plunge through the thin Mars atmosphere.

"Touchdown confirmed," said engineer Allen Chen. "We're safe on Mars."

Minutes after the landing signal reached Earth at 10:32 p.m. PDT, Curiosity beamed back the first black-and-white pictures from inside the crater showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun.

"We landed in a nice flat spot. Beautiful, really beautiful," said engineer Adam Steltzner, who led the team that devised the tricky landing routine.

It was NASA's seventh landing on Earth's neighbor; many other attempts by the U.S. and other countries to zip past, circle or set down on Mars have gone awry.

The arrival was an engineering tour de force, debuting never-before-tried acrobatics packed into "seven minutes of terror" as Curiosity sliced through the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph.

In a Hollywood-style finish, cables delicately lowered the rover to the ground at a snail-paced 2 mph. A video camera was set to capture the most dramatic moments - which would give Earthlings their first glimpse of a touchdown on another world.

Celebrations by the mission team were so joyous over the next hour that JPL Director Charles Elachi had to plead for calm in order to hold a post-landing press conference. He compared the team to athletic teams that participate in the Olympics.

"This team came back with the gold," he said.

The extraterrestrial feat injected a much-needed boost to NASA, which is debating whether it can afford another robotic Mars landing this decade. At a budget-busting $2.5 billion, Curiosity is the priciest gamble yet, which scientists hope will pay off with a bonanza of discoveries and pave the way for astronaut landings.

"The wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars," said NASA chief Charles Bolden.

President Barack Obama lauded the landing in a statement, calling it "an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future."

Over the next two years, Curiosity will drive over to a mountain rising from the crater floor, poke into rocks and scoop up rust-tinted soil to see if the region ever had the right environment for microscopic organisms to thrive. It's the latest chapter in the long-running quest to find out whether primitive life arose early in the planet's history.

The voyage to Mars took more than eight months and spanned 352 million miles. The trickiest part of the journey? The landing. Because Curiosity weighs nearly a ton, engineers drummed up a new and more controlled way to set the rover down. The last Mars rovers, twins Spirit and Opportunity, were cocooned in air bags and bounced to a stop in 2004.

Curiosity relied on a series of braking tricks, similar to those used by the space shuttle, a heat shield and a supersonic parachute to slow down as it punched through the atmosphere.

And in a new twist, engineers came up with a way to lower the rover by cable from a hovering rocket-powered backpack. At touchdown, the cords cut and the rocket stage crashed a distance away.

The nuclear-powered Curiosity, the size of a small car, is packed with scientific tools, cameras and a weather station. It sports a robotic arm with a power drill, a laser that can zap distant rocks, a chemistry lab to sniff for the chemical building blocks of life and a detector to measure dangerous radiation on the surface.

It also tracked radiation levels during the journey to help NASA better understand the risks astronauts could face on a future manned trip.
 
Over the next several days, Curiosity is expected to send back the first color pictures. After several weeks of health checkups, the six-wheel rover could take its first short drive and flex its robotic arm.

The landing site near Mars' equator was picked because there are signs of past water everywhere, meeting one of the requirements for life as we know it. Inside Gale Crater is a 3-mile-high mountain, and images from space show the base appears rich in minerals that formed in the presence of water.

Previous trips to Mars have uncovered ice near the Martian north pole and evidence that water once flowed when the planet was wetter and toastier unlike today's harsh, frigid desert environment.

Curiosity's goal: to scour for basic ingredients essential for life including carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur and oxygen. It's not equipped to search for living or fossil microorganisms. To get a definitive answer, a future mission needs to fly Martian rocks and soil back to Earth to be examined by powerful laboratories.

The mission comes as NASA retools its Mars exploration strategy. Faced with tough economic times, the space agency pulled out of partnership with the European Space Agency to land a rock-collecting rover in 2018. The Europeans have since teamed with the Russians as NASA decides on a new roadmap.

Despite Mars' reputation as a spacecraft graveyard, humans continue their love affair with the planet, lobbing spacecraft in search of clues about its early history. Out of more than three dozen attempts - flybys, orbiters and landings - by the U.S., Soviet Union, Europe and Japan since the 1960s, more than half have ended disastrously.

One NASA rover that defied expectations is Opportunity, which is still busy wheeling around the rim of a crater in the Martian southern hemisphere eight years later.

---

Mars mission: http://www.nasa.gov/msl

---

Follow Alicia Chang's Mars coverage at: http://www.twitter.com/SciWriAlicia


Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 06, 2012, 07:56:03 AM
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/msl20120805c.html

Quote
NASA Lands Car-Size Rover Beside Martian Mountain

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's most advanced Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet. The one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars Sunday to end a 36-week flight and begin a two-year investigation.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "This is an amazing achievement, made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory. President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid-2030's, and today's landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal."

Curiosity landed at 10:32 p.m. Aug. 5, PDT, (1:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 6) near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. During a nearly two-year prime mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

"The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph," said NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld. "My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission's team."

Curiosity returned its first view of Mars, a wide-angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover. More images are anticipated in the next several days as the mission blends observations of the landing site with activities to configure the rover for work and check the performance of its instruments and mechanisms.

"Our Curiosity is talking to us from the surface of Mars," said MSL Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The landing takes us past the most hazardous moments for this project, and begins a new and exciting mission to pursue its scientific objectives."

Confirmation of Curiosity's successful landing came in communications relayed by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter and received by the Canberra, Australia, antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information on the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity And http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

  Guy Webster / D.C. Agle 818-354-6278 / 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 06, 2012, 10:44:58 AM
Rover landed here...

(http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/658679main_pia15686-43_946-710.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 06, 2012, 10:56:31 AM
That is freakin awesome!!!  I was really worried that this thing wouldn't make it.  Kudos to all involved!

Now lets see some pictures
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 06, 2012, 11:20:04 AM
That is freakin awesome!!!  I was really worried that this thing wouldn't make it.  Kudos to all involved!

Now lets see some pictures

Me too... the complexity of this landing was far greater than any before it.  NASA said it may be a few days to reconfigure the craft into "rover mode" and test all systems but we should start seeing more pix shortly...  Dont forget... rover Opportunity is still roving and taking pix every day!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Dog Walker on August 06, 2012, 11:37:52 AM
I was sure that something that complicated would fail.  Just fantastic that it did not.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 06, 2012, 01:46:37 PM
Wow... photos of the descent...

(http://www.popsci.com/files/imagecache/article_image_large/articles/365963747.209573.jpg)

Quote
New Image Shows Mars Rover Curiosity Parachuting Toward Perfect Landing

PASADENA, Calif. -- As the Mars rover Curiosity plummeted toward its landing on Mars last night, NASA's orbiters, the storied Odyssey orbiter and Reconnaissance Orbiter, were sailing overhead and watching its progress. In an incredible feat of photography on another planet, MRO's HiRISE camera captured this image of the spacecraft on the parachute.
 
You can see the fully unfurled chute, which was capable of sustaining Mach 2.2 speeds, complete with the small hole at its top. The white area on the spacecraft is the Mars Science Laboratory's backshell, holding the Curiosity rover tucked inside. NASA managers were unsure as of 10 a.m. Pacific time Monday whether the heat shield is still attached in this image.

Capturing a snapshot of Curiosity's "seven minutes of terror" is really something -- MRO had to be in the right place at the right time, which itself was a feat of orbital mechanics.

Sarah Milkovich of the MRO team told a morning news conference that the orbiter was about 340 kilometers (211 miles) from the falling spacecraft when it took this image. It was almost directly overhead, at a slight angle.

We're waiting on lots of additional pictures later today from MRO, including potential images of Curiosity's sky crane descent stage, which safely crashed a few hundred meters from the rover.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-08/new-image-shows-mars-roer-curiosity-parachuting-toward-perfect-landing
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 06, 2012, 02:30:36 PM
That parachute must have been massive.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 07, 2012, 06:56:56 AM
http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1292


Quote
STATUS REPORT
08.06.2012
Curiosity's Daily Update: Curiosity Safely on Mars! Health Checks Begin

Aug. 6: Curiosity Safely on Mars! Health Checks Begin
With Curiosity now safely on the surface of the Red Planet after last night's spectacular entry, descent and landing in Gale Crater, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory begins its planned primary one-Martian-year (98-week) mission of discovery and exploration.

On its first Martian day, designated Sol 0, the rover is checking its health and measuring its tilt. All Sol 0 spacecraft activities appear to have been completely nominal. These include firing all of Curiosity's pyrotechnic devices for releasing post-landing deployments. Spring-loaded deployments, such as removal of dust covers from the Hazard-Avoidance cameras (Hazcams) occur immediately when pyros are fired. Curiosity also took images with its front and rear Hazcams both before and after removal of the dust covers, checked out its UHF telecommunications system and rover motor controller assembly, and completed all activities required to proceed with its planned activities on Sol 1. Approximately five megabytes of data were successfully relayed back to Earth from NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft during its overpass today.

Curiosity landed facing east-southeast within Gale Crater, with a heading of 112.7 degrees (plus or minus five degrees), and a few degrees of tilt. A Sol 1 overpass by Mars Odyssey will provide additional information on Curiosity's position and additional imagery. A first look at some color images taken just before landing by MSL's Mars Descent Imager also provided additonal information on the rover's precise location.

Activities planned for Sol 1 during the mission's approximately one-month characterization activity phase include deploying Curiosity's high-gain antenna, collecting science data from Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector and Rover Environmental Monitoring Station instruments, and obtaining additional imagery. The mission's characterization activity phase is design to learn how all Curiosity's subsystems and instruments are functioning after landing and within the environment and gravitational field of Mars.

 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Lunican on August 07, 2012, 08:18:34 AM
(http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/wiredscience/2012/08/mt-sharp-first-look-660x495.jpg)
The newest robotic resident of Mars, Curiosity, has sent a spectacular image of its main scientific target, Mt. Sharp, a three-mile-high mountain in the center of Gale crater.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/curiositys-mt-sharp/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 07, 2012, 08:42:28 AM
Cool!  This was taken with a pretty low res camera... In the coming days the Hi res cameras will provide spectacular vistas!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 07, 2012, 09:52:05 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/UcGMDXy-Y1I

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 07, 2012, 10:28:08 AM
After seeing the black & white image I was waiting for a deceptacon to walk into view and squash the rover.

Very eerie picture
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: JeffreyS on August 07, 2012, 10:47:02 AM
The Martians probably think the rover is a deceptacon.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: TheCat on August 07, 2012, 11:15:09 AM
(https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/422247_10100234070198492_1905634395_n.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Timkin on August 07, 2012, 12:45:01 PM
^ *like !! :)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 07, 2012, 04:26:03 PM
(http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s480x480/376600_457262734294743_1057611802_n.jpg)


WHO GET'S IT?
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: RiversideLoki on August 07, 2012, 05:03:02 PM
(http://i.imgur.com/xwKHP.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Timkin on August 07, 2012, 10:58:38 PM
Poor Kitty Cat.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 08, 2012, 07:01:45 AM
(http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/674329main_pia16001-673.jpg)

Quote
PASADENA, Calif. – Late Monday night, an image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover and the components that helped it survive its seven-minute ordeal from space to its present location in Mars' Gale Crater.

"This latest image is another demonstration of the invaluable assistance the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team, and its sister team with the Mars Odyssey orbiter, have provided the Curiosity rover during our early days on the Red Planet," said Mike Watkins, mission manager for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The image not only satisfies our curiosity, it can provide important information on how these vital components performed during entry, descent and landing, and exactly locate the rover's touchdown site within Gale Crater."

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's image of Curiosity and its parachute, back shell, heat shield and descent stage can be found at: http://go.nasa.gov/OXjKz6 .

The Curiosity rover is in the center of the image. To the right, approximately 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) away, lies the heat shield, which protected the rover from 3,800-degree-Fahrenheit (about 2,100 degrees Celsius) temperatures encountered during its fiery descent. On the lower left, about 2,020 feet (615 meters) away, are the parachute and back shell. The parachute has a constructed diameter of 71 feet (almost 21.5 meters) and an inflated diameter of 51 feet (nearly 16 meters). The back shell remains connected to the chute via 80 suspension lines that are 165 feet (50 meters) long. To the upper-left, approximately 2,100 feet (650 meters) away from the rover, is a discoloration of the Mars surface consistent with what would have resulted when the rocket-powered Sky Crane impacted the surface.

"This is the first of what I imagine will be many portraits HiRISE will be taking of Curiosity on the surface of Mars," said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at JPL. "The image was taken Monday at about 10:30 p.m. Pacific when MRO was at an altitude of about 186 miles (300 kilometers), and we are getting resolution on the surface down to 1.3 feet (39 centimeters) per pixel."

As more of Curiosity's instruments are coming online, more "first images" are being downlinked from the rover's 17 cameras. The latest to come in is from the Mars Hand Lens Imager or MAHLI. The focusable color camera is located on the tool-bearing turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. Researchers will use it for magnified, close-up views of rocks and soils and also for wider scenes of the ground, the landscape or even the rover.

"It is great to have our first MAHLI image under our belt," said Ken Edgett, principal investigator for MAHLI from Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. "We tested the focus mechanism and imager and the whole system is looking good. We are looking forward to getting up close and personal with Mars."

The first MAHLI image, taken with the dust-coated clear plastic cover over the lens, is available at: http://go.nasa.gov/Qb3l6U .

The team plans for Curiosity checkout Tuesday include raising the rover's mast and continued testing of the high-gain antenna.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which is located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.

To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona in Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Exploration Rover projects are managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the orbiter.

For more information on NASA's Curiosity mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mars and http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . For more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mro . Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

  Guy Webster/D.C. Agle 818-354-5011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown/Steve Cole 202-358-1726/202-358-0918
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / Stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 08, 2012, 07:10:45 AM
Quote
Curiosity Gets More Looks at its Surroundings; Health Checks Continue
Tue, 07 Aug 2012 10:47:37 PM EDT


Curiosity is healthy as it continues to familiarize itself with its new home in Gale Crater and check out its systems. The team's plans for Curiosity checkout today included raising the rover's mast and continued testing of its high-gain antenna, whose pointing toward Earth will be adjusted on Sol 2. Science data were collected from Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector, and activities were performed with the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station instrument. Curiosity transmitted its first color image from the surface of Mars, from the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, showing part of the north rim of Gale Crater. Additional calibration images were received from Curiosity's Navcam and Mastcam. All systems are go for deployment of the rover's remote sensing mast on Sol 2, followed by a 360-degree pan by the rover's Navcam. The Mastcam will also be calibrated against a target image on the rover. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter returned a spectacular image of Curiosity's landing site, depicting the rover, parachute, back shell, heat shield and descent stage. Data were received from both NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 08, 2012, 08:56:42 AM
Poor Kitty Cat.



"Curiosity killed the cat"     ;D
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 08, 2012, 02:47:30 PM
(http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/674896main_pia16013-43_946-710.jpg)

Quote
Curiosity's New Home

These are the first two full-resolution images of the Martian surface from the Navigation cameras on NASA's Curiosity rover, which are located on the rover's "head" or mast. The rim of Gale Crater can be seen in the distance beyond the pebbly ground.

The topography of the rim is very mountainous due to erosion. The ground seen in the middle shows low-relief scarps and plains. The foreground shows two distinct zones of excavation likely carved out by blasts from the rover's descent stage thrusters.


Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 08, 2012, 03:01:07 PM
this may be where the raw images are first uploaded... lots of grainy out of focus pix so far... probably still testing and lens covered...

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 08, 2012, 03:05:35 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16012_Justin-3_cropped-br.jpg)

Quote
08.08.2012
Rover's Self Portrait 

This Picasso-like self portrait of NASA's Curiosity rover was taken by its Navigation cameras, located on the now-upright mast. The camera snapped pictures 360-degrees around the rover, while pointing down at the rover deck, up and straight ahead. Those images are shown here in a polar projection. Most of the tiles are thumbnails, or small copies of the full-resolution images that have not been sent back to Earth yet. Two of the tiles are full-resolution.
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: David on August 08, 2012, 04:29:05 PM
Since i'm a total geek I was curious about the data transfer between the Curiosity and Earth. It's all done over the Deep Space Network Via the Mars Orbiter.

Quote
An orbiter passes over the rover and is in the vicinity of the sky to communicate with the rover for about eight minutes at a time, per sol. In that time, between 100 and 250 megabits of data can be transmitted to an orbiter. That same 250 megabits would take up to 20 hours to transmit direct to Earth! The rover can only transmit direct-to-Earth for a few hours a day due to power limitations or conflicts with other planned activities, even though Earth may be in view much longer.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/communicationwithearth/data/

If i'm reading it correctly, it's basically like communicating over an old analog modem. A small file can take hours to transfer. Yep, i'm a space geek.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: subro on August 08, 2012, 05:36:17 PM
(http://i439.photobucket.com/albums/qq113/mgeary77/Mars.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: JeffreyS on August 08, 2012, 07:36:57 PM
Fantastic. +1
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: buckethead on August 08, 2012, 08:01:17 PM
(http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/s480x480/376600_457262734294743_1057611802_n.jpg)


WHO GET'S IT?
It seems Curiosity did in fact, kill the cat.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 09, 2012, 08:34:58 AM
Not just any cat, a Martian cat!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 09, 2012, 03:36:52 PM
First pic of a color panorama...

(http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA16032_modest.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 10, 2012, 02:11:22 PM
Those photos look so eerie to me.  It's just not computing that the rover is actually on different planet.

What is the average temp in that area?
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: subro on August 10, 2012, 03:40:12 PM
Those photos look so eerie to me.  It's just not computing that the rover is actually on different planet.

What is the average temp in that area?


Temps range from -20°F during the day to -200°F during the night.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: TheCat on August 12, 2012, 01:33:57 PM
Nixon's prepared speech if Armstrong and Aldrin were not able to make it back to earth from the moon in 1969.

(http://photos.metrojacksonville.com/Other/Weekend-Edition-August-11/i-r2Fr2dn/0/L/moon-disaster-1-L.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: subro on August 15, 2012, 04:19:00 PM
The Coolest Thing on Earth: Looking Around Mars on Your Phone

By Robinson Meyer

Take out your phone and click on the link below. Just do it.

This http://www.360cities.net/image/curiosity-rover-martian-solar-day-2#30.26,-8.03,61.5 (http://www.360cities.net/image/curiosity-rover-martian-solar-day-2#30.26,-8.03,61.5) is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Not the photo above, but what lies through that link.

Pause: As per the instructions of Joel Housman who first recommended this, you need to be on an iPhone or iPad, or maybe a tablet browser, for it to have its full effect. On an iPad or iPhone, you should open it in Safari, not a Twitter client's browser. But then just click the link.

This is a 360 degree view of the planet Mars.

If you move the phone in any direction, it acts as a window, and the view moves with it. If you look down, you see the rocks and gravel of Mars. If you point the phone up, you see the small sun and the planet's sour sky. If you look to the horizon and tilt your phone, you see the rocks and dirt close to you move faster than the furthest points; it feels like you're standing there. Just try it, even if you have to borrow someone's phone.

Show it to your parents. Show it to your kids. If you're a teacher, start the first day of school by passing around your iPhone and saying, "This is why you're learning math."

Here is what this visualization has shocked me into: Mars, through this app, isn't a series of inquiries or a collection of images. It's a planet. It has a horizon, and there are a thounsand thousand views of that horizon. It has rocks, and there are a thousand thousand of those. It looks upon a sun, in a sky, which, from any vantage point, might look any of a thousand thousand ways.

Mars is a planet, full of places.

This view demands wonder. For this view, of another planet's horizon, of another planet that's just a single clump of matter out from ours, in just one galaxy that happens to be ours in the universe. There are countless horizons like this, horizons beyond our reckoning.

UPDATE: To maximize enjoyment, some of Curiosity's images were altered or augmented. Carl Franzen, at Talking Points Memo, explains the process.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/the-coolest-thing-on-earth-looking-around-mars-on-your-phone/261173/

Copyright © 2012 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Overstreet on August 15, 2012, 04:49:12 PM
First pic of a color panorama...

(http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA16032_modest.jpg)


Oh Look a truck burn out in the gravel.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 20, 2012, 07:59:48 AM
Quote
08.17.2012
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Curiosity Team Pinpoints Site For First Drive

PASADENA, Calif. -- The scientists and engineers of NASA's Curiosity rover mission have selected the first driving destination for their one-ton, six-wheeled mobile Mars laboratory. The target area, named Glenelg, is a natural intersection of three kinds of terrain. The choice was described by Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology during a media teleconference on Aug. 17.
"With such a great landing spot in Gale Crater, we literally had every degree of the compass to choose from for our first drive," Grotzinger said. "We had a bunch of strong contenders. It is the kind of dilemma planetary scientists dream of, but you can only go one place for the first drilling for a rock sample on Mars. That first drilling will be a huge moment in the history of Mars exploration."

The trek to Glenelg will send the rover 1,300 feet (400 meters) east-southeast of its landing site. One of the three types of terrain intersecting at Glenelg is layered bedrock, which is attractive as the first drilling target.

"We're about ready to load our new destination into our GPS and head out onto the open road," Grotzinger said. "Our challenge is there is no GPS on Mars, so we have a roomful of rover-driver engineers providing our turn-by-turn navigation for us."

Prior to the rover's trip to Glenelg, the team in charge of Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, is planning to give their mast-mounted, rock-zapping laser and telescope combination a thorough checkout. On Saturday night, Aug. 18, ChemCam is expected to "zap" its first rock in the name of planetary science. It will be the first time such a powerful laser has been used on the surface of another world.

"Rock N165 looks like your typical Mars rock, about three inches wide. It's about 10 feet away," said Roger Wiens, principal investigator of the ChemCam instrument from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "We are going to hit it with 14 millijoules of energy 30 times in 10 seconds. It is not only going to be an excellent test of our system, it should be pretty cool too."

Mission engineers are devoting more time to planning the first roll of Curiosity. In the coming days, the rover will exercise each of its four steerable (front and back) wheels, turning each of them side-to-side before ending up with each wheel pointing straight ahead. On a later day, the rover will drive forward about one rover-length (10 feet, or 3 meters), turn 90 degrees, and then kick into reverse for about 7 feet (2 meters).

"There will be a lot of important firsts that will be taking place for Curiosity over the next few weeks, but the first motion of its wheels, the first time our roving laboratory on Mars does some actual roving, that will be something special," said Michael Watkins, mission manager for Curiosity from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16064-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 21, 2012, 08:30:14 AM
http://www.livescience.com/22556-mars-rover-stretches-robot-arm.html

Quote
Mars Rover Curiosity Flexes Robotic Arm for 1st Time

by SPACE.com Staff

Date: 21 August 2012 Time: 02:48 AM ET

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity flexed its long robotic arm for the first time on the Red Planet Aug. 20, passing a critical health check with flying colors, mission managers say.
 
The rover unfolded the robotic arm and performed an intricate series of test maneuvers to make sure the 7-foot-long (2.1-meter) appendage is in good working order. Curiosity's robotic arm has five joints and is tipped with sophisticated instruments to get up close and personal with Mars.
 
Monday's Martian workout flexed all five joints on the robotic arm to extend it out in front of Curiosity, and then fold it back into its travel position ahead of the rover's first drive, which is also expected to occur in the next few days.

"It worked just as we planned," Louise Jandura, Curiosity's sample system chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "From telemetry and from the images received this morning, we can confirm that the arm went to the positions we commanded it to go to."
 
Curiosity's robotic arm is one of the rover's most powerful toolkits. At the end of the arm is a bulky 66-pound (30-kilogram) turret that is nearly 2 feet wide (60 centimeters).

The arm's turret contains a drill that can dig 1 inch (2.5 cm) into Martian rocks, a scoop and other gear for collecting samples, a camera for microscopic analyses, and a spectrometer to determine the composition of rocket and surface targets.
 
"We'll start using our sampling system in the weeks ahead, and we're getting ready to try our first drive later this week," said Richard Cook, NASA's deputy project manager for the Curiosity mission.
 
But more robotic arm tests are needed before Curiosity can begin using the appendage to study Mars.  The arm, mission managers said, must past several calibration checks to make sure it is working properly.
 
"We have had to sit tight for the first two weeks since landing, while other parts of the rover were checked out, so to see the arm extended in these images is a huge moment for us," said Matt Robinson NASA's lead engineer for the robotic arm testing. "The arm is how we are going to get samples into the laboratory instruments and how we place other instruments onto surface targets.
 
Curiosity's robotic arm is one of 10 high-tech instruments built into the car-size rover to study Mars like never before. 
 
Monday's arm checkout came one day after Curiosity shot a nearby rock with a laser built into its mast to make sure the tool worked. That tool is part of Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (or ChemCam) instrument that determines the composition of targets by zapping them with a laser beam and then analyzing the light from the resulting sparks. The laser system, like the robotic arm, worked as expected.
 
The $2.5 billion Mars rover Curiosity touched down on the Red Planet on Aug. 5 and is expected to spend at least two years exploring its Gale Crater landing site. The rover is designed to determine if the region could have ever supported microbial life.

(http://i.livescience.com/images/i/30199/original/curiosity-arm-tools.jpg?1345531962)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00014/opgs/edr/ncam/NLA_398742207EDR_F0030004NCAM00105M_-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Dog Walker on August 21, 2012, 10:32:59 AM
Thanks for the updates, BT.  I was beginning to think that I was the only space nut left around.  Maybe it's because I've been around since the very beginning and remember all of the firsts.  Saw Sputnick go over with my own telescope, saw the first TV relay from Telestar, cried over Lyca the dog, watched Armstrong step down from the lander,  was anchored in the Indian River when the first Venus probe was launched.

Exciting times and I hope we never become ho-hum about these adventures.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: wsansewjs on August 21, 2012, 11:04:20 AM
Thanks for the updates, BT.  I was beginning to think that I was the only space nut left around.  Maybe it's because I've been around since the very beginning and remember all of the firsts.  Saw Sputnick go over with my own telescope, saw the first TV relay from Telestar, cried over Lyca the dog, watched Armstrong step down from the lander,  was anchored in the Indian River when the first Venus probe was launched.

Exciting times and I hope we never become ho-hum about these adventures.

You are not the only one who is a space-nut as well! There are plenty of us who are so fascinated and interested in this stuff.

Keep cranking out, BT!

-Josh
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 21, 2012, 11:10:50 AM
Thanks for the updates, BT.  I was beginning to think that I was the only space nut left around.  Maybe it's because I've been around since the very beginning and remember all of the firsts.  Saw Sputnick go over with my own telescope, saw the first TV relay from Telestar, cried over Lyca the dog, watched Armstrong step down from the lander,  was anchored in the Indian River when the first Venus probe was launched.

Exciting times and I hope we never become ho-hum about these adventures.

You saw a bit more than I did... but have been an avid follower since Apollo...
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 21, 2012, 11:29:56 AM
It seems that there is a lot more press about Curiosity versus the the sparse mentions of the other two explorers that have been on Mars for years.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: fsujax on August 21, 2012, 11:38:37 AM
This is exciting and fun to follow.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 21, 2012, 11:52:38 AM
It seems that there is a lot more press about Curiosity versus the the sparse mentions of the other two explorers that have been on Mars for years.

They got a good bit of press early in their missions also.  Remeber those were only supposed to last two months.  They lived wayyyy past their intended lives...
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Dog Walker on August 21, 2012, 04:55:31 PM
Wouldn't it be neat if Curiosity lived proportionally longer than the projected life as the other rovers!  It would be around to take pictures of the first people landing on Mars.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: subro on August 21, 2012, 05:15:21 PM
I heard this on NPR today. The Rover’s flight director’s family has switched over to living on Martian time. Their days are 40 min longer then Earth’s…

Since the landing of NASA's newest Mars rover, flight director David Oh's family has taken the unusual step of tagging along as he leaves Earth time behind and syncs his body clock with the red planet.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=159227148

His Son is 13 years old and is keeping a blog documenting their life on the Mars calendar, e.g. bowling at 4 am, etc. It’s a fun read.

http://marstimr.tumblr.com/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 22, 2012, 07:29:14 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1321

Quote
08.21.2012
NASA's Curiosity Studies Mars Surroundings, Nears Drive

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has been investigating the Martian weather around it and the soil beneath it, as its controllers prepare for the car-size vehicle's first drive on Mars.
The rover's weather station, provided by Spain, checks air temperature, ground temperature, air pressure, wind and other variables every hour at the landing site in Gale Crater. On a typical Martian day, or "sol," based on measurements so far in the two-week old mission, air temperatures swing from 28 degrees to minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 to minus 75 Celsius). Ground temperatures change even more between afternoon and pre-dawn morning, from 37 degrees to minus 132 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to minus 91 Celsius).

"We will learn about changes from day to day and season to season," said Javier Gómez-Elvira of the Centro de Astrobiología, Madrid, Spain, principal investigator for the suite of weather sensors called the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS).

Within a week or so, daily Mars weather reports from Curiosity will become available at:

http://cab.inta-csic.es/rems/marsweather.html or bit.ly/RzQe6p .

One of the two sets of REMS wind sensors is not providing data. "One possibility is that pebbles lofted during the landing hit the delicate circuit boards on one of the two REMS booms," said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We will have to be more clever about using the remaining wind sensor to get wind speed and direction."

An instrument provided by Russia is checking for water bound into minerals in the top three feet (one meter) of soil beneath the rover. It employs a technology that is used in oil prospecting on Earth, but had never before been sent to another planet.

"Curiosity has begun shooting neutrons into the ground," said Igor Mitrofanov of Space Research Institute, Moscow, principal investigator for this instrument, called the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons, or DAN. "We measure the amount of hydrogen in the soil by observing how the neutrons are scattered, and hydrogen on Mars is an indicator of water."

The most likely hydrogen to be found in shallow ground of Gale Crater, near the Martian equator, is in hydrated minerals. These are minerals with water molecules, or related ions, bound into the crystalline structure of rocks. They can tenaciously retain water from a wetter past after all free water has gone.

Curiosity will soon have a different patch of ground beneath it. Today, the six-wheeled rover wiggled its four corner wheels side to side for the first time on Mars, as a test of the steering actuators on those wheels. This was critical preparation for Curiosity's first drive on Mars.

"Late tonight, we plan to send Curiosity the commands for doing our first drive tomorrow," said Curiosity Mission Manager Michael Watkins of JPL.

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to Mars on Aug. 5, PDT (Aug. 6, EDT). In a two-year prime mission researchers are using the rover's 10 instruments to assess whether the selected study area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life and for preserving evidence about whether life has existed.

The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of Caltech.
More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl .
You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosityand on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

2012-254

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Guy Webster / D.C. Agle 818-354-6278 / 818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16087_Watkins1A-br.gif)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Dog Walker on August 22, 2012, 09:13:18 AM
Somehow the hokey pokey song comes to mind. 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 22, 2012, 01:24:44 PM
(http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/555515_458631447491205_1395904267_n.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: subro on August 22, 2012, 03:33:34 PM
This video makes the Rover landing accomplishment even that much more impressive...

Watching this amazing high-definition video of Curiosity’s hair-raising landing on Mars will make you clutch at your armrest. Compiled from the probe’s MARDI descent camera, it is the best landing video yet and gives you a chance to experience what it’s like to ride along with the rover down to the Martian surface.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/hd-curiosity-landing/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Top+Stories%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 23, 2012, 08:37:34 AM
Quote
08.22.2012
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Mars Rover Begins Driving At Bradbury Landing

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has begun driving from its landing site, which scientists announced today they have named for the late author Ray Bradbury.
Making its first movement on the Martian surface, Curiosity's drive combined forward, turn and reverse segments. This placed the rover roughly 20 feet (6 meters) from the spot where it landed 16 days ago.

NASA has approved the Curiosity science team's choice to name the landing ground for the influential author, who was born 92 years ago today and died this year. The location where Curiosity touched down is now called Bradbury Landing.

"This was not a difficult choice for the science team," said Michael Meyer, NASA program scientist for Curiosity. "Many of us and millions of other readers were inspired in our lives by stories Ray Bradbury wrote to dream of the possibility of life on Mars."After the Laser ShotsImages taken before and after NASA's Curiosity rover shot its laser 50 times are shown here.

Today's drive confirmed the health of Curiosity's mobility system and produced the rover's first wheel tracks on Mars, documented in images taken after the drive. During a news conference today at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the mission's lead rover driver, Matt Heverly, showed an animation derived from visualization software used for planning the first drive.

"We have a fully functioning mobility system with lots of amazing exploration ahead," Heverly said.

Curiosity will spend several more days of working beside Bradbury Landing, performing instrument checks and studying the surroundings, before embarking toward its first driving destination approximately 1,300 feet (400 meters) to the east-southeast.

"Curiosity is a much more complex vehicle than earlier Mars rovers. The testing and characterization activities during the initial weeks of the mission lay important groundwork for operating our precious national resource with appropriate care," said Curiosity Project Manager Pete Theisinger of JPL. "Sixteen days in, we are making excellent progress."

The science team has begun pointing instruments on the rover's mast for investigating specific targets of interest near and far. The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument used a laser and spectrometers this week to examine the composition of rocks exposed when the spacecraft's landing engines blew away several inches of overlying material.

The instrument's principal investigator, Roger Weins of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, reported that measurements made on the rocks in this scoured-out feature called Goulburn suggest a basaltic composition. "These may be pieces of basalt within a sedimentary deposit," Weins said.

Curiosity began a two-year prime mission on Mars when the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered the car-size rover to its landing target inside Gale Crater on Aug. 5 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT). The mission will use 10 science instruments on the rover to assess whether the area has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

In a career spanning more than 70 years, Ray Bradbury inspired generations of readers to dream, think and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and nearly 50 books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

His groundbreaking works include "Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles," "The Illustrated Man," "Dandelion Wine," and "Something Wicked This Way Comes." He wrote the screenplay for John Huston's classic film adaptation of "Moby Dick," and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted 65 of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of "The Halloween Tree."

JPL manages the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about Curiosity is online at:
http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

Follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at:

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16092_Heverly1-hpfeat2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16095_Hazcamtracks-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 23, 2012, 08:40:47 AM
Here is a link that contains all photos taken by the rover.  You can browse by individual camera... or by sol (day)

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 23, 2012, 08:47:56 AM
Those photos look so eerie to me.  It's just not computing that the rover is actually on different planet.

What is the average temp in that area?


Temps range from -20°F during the day to -200°F during the night.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16081_gomez3-br.jpg)

Quote
Taking Mars' Temperature 
This graph shows the rise and fall of air and ground temperatures on Mars obtained by NASA's Curiosity rover. The data cover Aug. 16 to Aug. 17, 2012 and were taken by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station. Ground temperatures vary from as high as 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) to as low as minus 131.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 91 degrees Celsius), showing large temperature oscillations from day to night. Air temperatures vary from as high as 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 degrees Celsius) to as low as minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 75 degrees Celsius), indicating, as expected, variations in air temperatures are less extreme than ground temperature variations.
 

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 28, 2012, 06:40:49 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16105u_malin04MAINIMAGE-br.jpg)

Quote
08.27.2012
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Rover Returns Voice and Telephoto Views From Martian Surface


PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Curiosity has debuted the first recorded human voice that traveled from Earth to another planet and back.
In spoken words radioed to the rover on Mars and back to NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) on Earth, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden noted the difficulty of landing a rover on Mars, congratulated NASA employees and the agency's commercial and government partners on the successful landing of Curiosity earlier this month, and said curiosity is what drives humans to explore.

"The knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet. Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future," Bolden said in the recorded message.

The voice playback was released along with new telephoto camera views of the varied Martian landscape during a news conference today at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

"With this voice, another small step is taken in extending human presence beyond Earth, and the experience of exploring remote worlds is brought a little closer to us all," said Dave Lavery, NASA Curiosity program executive. "As Curiosity continues its mission, we hope these words will be an inspiration to someone alive today who will become the first to stand upon the surface of Mars. And like the great Neil Armstrong, they will speak aloud of that next giant leap in human exploration."

The telephoto images beamed back to Earth show a scene of eroded knobs and gulches on a mountainside, with geological layering clearly exposed. The new views were taken by the 100-millimeter telephoto lens and the 34-milllimeter wide angle lens of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument. Mastcam has photographed the lower slope of the nearby mountain called Mount Sharp.

"This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go," said Mastcam principal investigator Michael Malin, of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. "Those layers are our ultimate objective. The dark dune field is between us and those layers. In front of the dark sand you see redder sand, with a different composition suggested by its different color. The rocks in the foreground show diversity -- some rounded, some angular, with different histories. This is a very rich geological site to look at and eventually to drive through."

A drive early Monday placed Curiosity directly over a patch where one of the spacecraft's landing engines scoured away a few inches of gravelly soil and exposed underlying rock. Researchers plan to use a neutron-shooting instrument on the rover to check for water molecules bound into minerals at this partially excavated target.

During the news conference, the rover team reported the results of a test on Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, which can measure the composition of samples of atmosphere, powdered rock or soil. The amount of air from Earth's atmosphere remaining in the instrument after Curiosity's launch was more than expected, so a difference in pressure on either side of tiny pumps led SAM operators to stop pumping out the remaining Earth air as a precaution. The pumps subsequently worked, and a chemical analysis was completed on a sample of Earth air.

"As a test of the instrument, the results are beautiful confirmation of the sensitivities for identifying the gases present," said SAM principal investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "We're happy with this test and we're looking forward to the next run in a few days when we can get Mars data."

Curiosity already is returning more data from the Martian surface than have all of NASA's earlier rovers combined.

"We have an international network of telecommunications relay orbiters bringing data back from Curiosity," said JPL's Chad Edwards, chief telecommunications engineer for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. "Curiosity is boosting its data return by using a new capability for adjusting its transmission rate."

Curiosity is 3 weeks into a two-year prime mission on Mars. It will use 10 science instruments to assess whether the selected study area ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. NASA's DSN is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.

The full text of the administrator's message, as well as a video clip and audio clip with his recorded voice, are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/bolden20120827.html .

To view the new images, and for more information about the Curiosity rover, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

2012-260

Guy Webster/D.C. Agle 818-354-6278/818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: wsansewjs on August 28, 2012, 09:42:24 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16105u_malin04MAINIMAGE-br.jpg)

Quote
08.27.2012
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Rover Returns Voice and Telephoto Views From Martian Surface


PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Curiosity has debuted the first recorded human voice that traveled from Earth to another planet and back.
In spoken words radioed to the rover on Mars and back to NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) on Earth, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden noted the difficulty of landing a rover on Mars, congratulated NASA employees and the agency's commercial and government partners on the successful landing of Curiosity earlier this month, and said curiosity is what drives humans to explore.

"The knowledge we hope to gain from our observation and analysis of Gale Crater will tell us much about the possibility of life on Mars as well as the past and future possibilities for our own planet. Curiosity will bring benefits to Earth and inspire a new generation of scientists and explorers, as it prepares the way for a human mission in the not too distant future," Bolden said in the recorded message.

The voice playback was released along with new telephoto camera views of the varied Martian landscape during a news conference today at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

"With this voice, another small step is taken in extending human presence beyond Earth, and the experience of exploring remote worlds is brought a little closer to us all," said Dave Lavery, NASA Curiosity program executive. "As Curiosity continues its mission, we hope these words will be an inspiration to someone alive today who will become the first to stand upon the surface of Mars. And like the great Neil Armstrong, they will speak aloud of that next giant leap in human exploration."

The telephoto images beamed back to Earth show a scene of eroded knobs and gulches on a mountainside, with geological layering clearly exposed. The new views were taken by the 100-millimeter telephoto lens and the 34-milllimeter wide angle lens of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) instrument. Mastcam has photographed the lower slope of the nearby mountain called Mount Sharp.

"This is an area on Mount Sharp where Curiosity will go," said Mastcam principal investigator Michael Malin, of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. "Those layers are our ultimate objective. The dark dune field is between us and those layers. In front of the dark sand you see redder sand, with a different composition suggested by its different color. The rocks in the foreground show diversity -- some rounded, some angular, with different histories. This is a very rich geological site to look at and eventually to drive through."

A drive early Monday placed Curiosity directly over a patch where one of the spacecraft's landing engines scoured away a few inches of gravelly soil and exposed underlying rock. Researchers plan to use a neutron-shooting instrument on the rover to check for water molecules bound into minerals at this partially excavated target.

During the news conference, the rover team reported the results of a test on Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, which can measure the composition of samples of atmosphere, powdered rock or soil. The amount of air from Earth's atmosphere remaining in the instrument after Curiosity's launch was more than expected, so a difference in pressure on either side of tiny pumps led SAM operators to stop pumping out the remaining Earth air as a precaution. The pumps subsequently worked, and a chemical analysis was completed on a sample of Earth air.

"As a test of the instrument, the results are beautiful confirmation of the sensitivities for identifying the gases present," said SAM principal investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "We're happy with this test and we're looking forward to the next run in a few days when we can get Mars data."

Curiosity already is returning more data from the Martian surface than have all of NASA's earlier rovers combined.

"We have an international network of telecommunications relay orbiters bringing data back from Curiosity," said JPL's Chad Edwards, chief telecommunications engineer for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. "Curiosity is boosting its data return by using a new capability for adjusting its transmission rate."

Curiosity is 3 weeks into a two-year prime mission on Mars. It will use 10 science instruments to assess whether the selected study area ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. NASA's DSN is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.

The full text of the administrator's message, as well as a video clip and audio clip with his recorded voice, are available at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/news/bolden20120827.html .

To view the new images, and for more information about the Curiosity rover, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .

2012-260

Guy Webster/D.C. Agle 818-354-6278/818-393-9011
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / agle@jpl.nasa.gov
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
Dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov



That's my friend, Dave Lavey! His newest car is on Mars! I have met, talked, and hung out with him at FIRST Robotics competitions events in the past 4 years.

I am on the very far left side with the face cut off. Dave Lavey is the guy in the right side, holding the panel we, the team, made for him. It is a martian alien with a squeezer and spray bottle to clean off the solar panels on the Spirit / Opportunity rover.

(http://www.teamresistance.org/wp-content/gallery/2007/photo_302.jpg)

-Josh

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 30, 2012, 07:09:13 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA15694-Sol22-rearhaz-br.jpg)

Quote
08.29.2012
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA Curiosity Rover Begins Eastbound Trek On Martian Surface

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has set off from its landing vicinity on a trek to a science destination about a quarter mile (400 meters) away, where it may begin using its drill.

The rover drove eastward about 52 feet (16 meters) on Tuesday, its 22nd Martian day after landing. This third drive was longer than Curiosity's first two drives combined. The previous drives tested the mobility system and positioned the rover to examine an area scoured by exhaust from one of the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft engines that placed the rover on the ground.

"This drive really begins our journey toward the first major driving destination, Glenelg, and it's nice to see some Martian soil on our wheels," said mission manager Arthur Amador of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The drive went beautifully, just as our rover planners designed it."

Glenelg is a location where three types of terrain intersect. Curiosity's science team chose it as a likely place to find a first rock target for drilling and analysis.

"We are on our way, though Glenelg is still many weeks away," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "We plan to stop for just a day at the location we just reached, but in the next week or so we will make a longer stop."

During the longer stop at a site still to be determined, Curiosity will test its robotic arm and the contact instruments at the end of the arm. At the location reached Tuesday, Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) will collect a set of images toward the mission's ultimate driving destination, the lower slope of nearby Mount Sharp. A mosaic of images from the current location will be used along with the Mastcam images of the mountain taken at the spot where Curiosity touched down, Bradbury Landing. This stereo pair taken about 33 feet (10 meters) apart will provide three-dimensional information about distant features and possible driving routes.

Curiosity is three weeks into a two-year prime mission on Mars. It will use 10 science instruments to assess whether the selected study area ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl .
You can follow the mission on Facebook and on Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 31, 2012, 08:51:54 AM
Looks like Curiosity can also defend itself... lol

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA15695-5holes-RMI-br.jpg)

Quote
08.30.2012
Marks of Laser Exam on Martian Soil 
The Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used its laser to examine side-by-side points in a target patch of soil, leaving the marks apparent in this before-and-after comparison.

The two images were taken by ChemCam's Remote Micro-Imager from a distance of about 11.5 feet (3.5 meters). The diameter of the circular field of view is about 3.1 inches (7.9 centimeters).

Researchers used ChemCam to study this soil target, named "Beechey," during the 19th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's mission (Aug. 25, 2012). The observation mode, called a five-by-one raster, is a way to investigate chemical variability at short scale on rock or soil targets. For the Beechey study, each point received 50 shots of the instrument's laser. The points on the target were studied in sequence left to right. Each shot delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second. The energy from the laser excites atoms in the target into a glowing state, and the instrument records the spectra of the resulting glow to identify what chemical elements are present in the target.

The holes seen here have widths of about 0.08 inch to 0.16 inch (2 to 4 millimeters), much larger than the size of the laser spot (0.017 inch or 0.43 millimeter at this distance). This demonstrates the power of the laser to evacuate dust and small unconsolidated grains. A preliminary analysis of the spectra recorded during this raster study show that the first laser shots look alike for each of the five points, but then variability is seen from shot to shot in a given point and from point to point.

ChemCam was developed, built and tested by the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in partnership with scientists and engineers funded by France's national space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and research agency, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project, including Curiosity, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the rover.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/ CNES/IRAP/LPGN/CNRS

Browse Image  |  Medium Image  |  Full Res Image (NASA's Planetary Photojournal) 

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=4600
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Timkin on September 03, 2012, 12:50:14 AM
Fascinating :)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 07, 2012, 10:57:25 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Watkins-1-pia161411-br.jpg)
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A Rover's Journey Begins 
Tracks from the first drives of NASA's Curiosity rover are visible in this image captured by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The rover is seen where the tracks end. The image's color has been enhanced to show the surface details better.

The two marks seen near the site where the rover landed formed when reddish surface dust was blown away by the rover's descent stage, revealing darker basaltic sands underneath. Similarly, the tracks appear darker where the rover's wheels disturbed the top layer of dust.

Observing the tracks over time will provide information on how the surface changes as dust is deposited and eroded.

The full image for these observations can be seen at http://uahirise.org/releases/msl-tracks.php .
 

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/robinson-2-pia16144-br.jpg)
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Curiosity's Robotic Arm 
This engineering drawing shows the location of the arm on NASA's Curiosity rover, in addition to the arm's turret, which holds two instruments and three tools. The arm places and holds turret-mounted tools on rock and soil targets. It also manipulates the sample-processing mechanisms on the 66-pound (30-kilogram) turret.

The arm has five degrees of freedom of movement provided by rotary actuators known as the shoulder azimuth joint, shoulder elevation joint, elbow joint, wrist joint and turret joint.
 

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/robinson-3-pia16145-br.jpg)
Quote
Tools at Curiosity's 'Fingertips' 
This engineering drawing shows the five devices that make up the turret at the end of the arm on NASA's Curiosity rover. These include: the drill for acquiring powdered samples from interiors of rocks; the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS); the sample processing subsystem named Collection and Handling for Interior Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA), which includes a scoop that can scoop up lose dirt from the Martian surface; the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI).

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/robinson-4-pia16146-br.jpg)
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Curiosity's Location During Arm Checkouts 
This scene shows the surroundings of the location where NASA Mars rover Curiosity arrived on the 29th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 4, 2012). It is a mosaic of images taken by Curiosity's Navigation Camera (Navcam) following the Sol 29 drive of 100 feet (30.5 meters). Tracks from the drive are visible in the image. For scale, Curiosity leaves parallel tracks about 9 feet (2.7 meters) apart.

At this location on Sol 30, Curiosity began a series of activities to test and characterize the rover's robotic arm and the tools on the arm.

The panorama is centered to the north-northeast, with south-southwest at both ends. 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Dog Walker on September 10, 2012, 02:02:41 PM
Just think!  We have landed a nuclear powered tank with a laser cannon on another world.  Neat stuff!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: wsansewjs on September 10, 2012, 02:17:11 PM
Just think!  We have landed a nuclear powered tank with a laser cannon on another world.  Neat stuff!

FIYAH MAH LAZER! PEW PEW PEW!

-Josh
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 20, 2012, 10:34:29 AM
Rover progress to date...

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Grotzinger-1-pia16153-REPlACE-br.jpg)

Quote
09.19.2012
Curiosity Traverse Map Through Sol 43 
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 43rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012).

The route starts where the rover touched down, a site subsequently named Bradbury Landing. The line extending toward the right (eastward) from Bradbury Landing is the rover's path. Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the distance driven each sol. North is up. The scale bar is 200 meters (656 feet).

By Sol 43, Curiosity had driven at total of about 950 feet (290 meters). The Glenelg area farther east is the mission's first major science destination, selected as likely to offer a good target for Curiosity's first analysis of powder collected by drilling into a rock.

The image used for the map is from an observation of the landing site by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 16, 2012, 07:46:50 AM
Quote
10.15.2012
Rover's Second Scoop Discarded, Third Scoop Commanded

Commands will be sent to Curiosity today instructing the rover to collect a third scoop of soil from the "Rocknest" site of windblown Martian sand and dust. Pending evaluation of this Sol 69 (Oct. 15, 2012) scooping, a sample from the scoopful is planned as the first sample for delivery -- later this week -- to one of the rover's internal analytical instruments, the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. A later scoopful will become the first solid sample for delivery to the rover's other internal analytical instrument, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.
The rover's second scoopful, collected on Sol 66 (Oct. 12), was intentionally discarded on Sol 67 due to concern about particles of bright material seen in the hole dug by the scooping. Other small pieces of bright material in the Rocknest area have been assessed as debris from the spacecraft. The science team did not want to put spacecraft material into the rover's sample-processing mechanisms. Confidence for going ahead with the third scooping was based on new assessment that other bright particles in the area are native Martian material. One factor in that consideration is seeing some bright particles embedded in clods of Martian soil. Further investigations of the bright particles are planned, including some imaging in the Sol 69 plan.

Sol 69, in Mars local mean solar time at Gale Crater, will end at 5:01 a.m. Oct. 16, PDT (8:01 a.m., EDT).

2012-323

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16229_MAHLI_Sol66_embedded_bit-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 19, 2012, 01:21:12 PM
(http://www.popsci.com/files/imagecache/article_image_large/articles/crop.png)

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The Mars rover Curiosity has arrived at its long-sought destination: Glenelg, a region where three types of geologic formations converge into a potential bonanza for scientists.

"Glenelg was conceptually a point that represented the three areas," John Grotzinger, project scientist for MSL at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told reporters today. "As part of understanding how those interrelate, we consider ourselves now to be in the promised land."

Now the rover's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument is analyzing a scooped sample of dirt from a site inside Glenelg called Rocknest. This is a major step for the rover, whose ability to X-ray sand is a crucial part of its two-year mission.
 
To prepare, Curiosity rinsed its instruments with some dirt to ensure any Earthly contamination was removed.

In the process of scooping those mouthfuls, it spotted some bright material. One of the pieces turned out to be a piece of the rover itself, a shard of plastic that fell off but didn't cause any harm. But the other shiny things, including the object in the image above, are native to Mars.
 
There are two theories about what it is, Grotzinger said. It could be a type of mineral that breaks along a cleavage point, exposing a flat surface to sunlight; or it could be the result of some process inside the soil that results in certain minerals. Scientists "very much would like to study this," he said. The rover's laser eye will zap the shiny material within the next few days to get a sense of what it contains. Then Curiosity will continue exploring the Glenelg region, probably through the end of the year.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Bridges on October 19, 2012, 01:31:25 PM
*crosses fingers* "Please be gold, or an extremely precious metal"

We'd colonize mars by July. 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on October 19, 2012, 01:32:39 PM
Thanks for the continuing updates BT!  This site is my first source for the latest developments on Mars because of you.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 19, 2012, 03:19:15 PM
Thanks for the continuing updates BT!  This site is my first source for the latest developments on Mars because of you.

It is my pleasure!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 02, 2012, 07:29:31 AM
Self portrait!

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16238-br.jpg)

Quote
11.01.2012
Preliminary Self-Portrait of Curiosity by Rover's Arm Camera 
On Sol 84 (Oct. 31, 2012), the Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture the set of thumbnail images stitched together to create this full-color self-portrait.

This self-portrait documents the state of the rover and allows mission engineers to track changes over time, such as dust accumulation and wheel wear. Due to its location on the end of the robotic arm, only MAHLI is able to image some parts of the rover, including port-side wheels.

The mosaic shows the rover at "Rocknest," the spot in Gale Crater where the mission's first scoop sampling took place. Scoop scars can be seen in the regolith in front of the rover. A portion of Mount Sharp appears on the right side. Mountains in the background to the left are the northern wall of Gale Crater.

When the rover returns the full-resolution MAHLI frames of the scene, the team plans to generate a more detailed portrait of Curiosity in its Martian neighborhood.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 04, 2012, 08:08:39 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Meyer-1-pia16577-br.jpg)

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Curiosity Rover Finds Organic Signal on Mars, But Not Definitive: NASA

SPACE.com Staff
Date: 03 December 2012 Time: 01:19 PM ET

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has discovered complex chemistry on the Red Planet, as well as hints of long-sought organic compounds that could aid primitive life, scientists announced today (Dec. 3).
 
The Curiosity rover found evidence of chlorine, sulfur and water in Mars dirt studied by its onboard laboratory, as well as organic compounds (chemicals containing carbon) inside its Sample Analysis at Mars instrument. However, the science team can't yet be sure whether these compounds truly come from Mars, or arise from contamination transported to the Red Planet onboard Curiosity.

"SAM has no definitive detection to report of organic compounds," Paul Mahaffy, SAM principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said during a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
 
"Even though [Mahaffy's] instrument detected organic compounds, first of all we have to determine whether they're indigenous to Mars," said John Grotzinger, Curiosity's project scientist.
 
The announcement came after recent rumors — which NASA attempted to dampen last week — that Curiosity had made a huge discovery on Mars.
 
The observation by Curiosity involved perchlorate, a reactive compound of oxygen and chlorine that had previously been found in the Martian arctic by NASA's Phoenix lander.
 
Curiosity's SAM instrument uses a tiny oven to cook Mars dirt samples, then study the gases they give off to determine their chemical makeup. Martian soil samples are placed in the device by a scoop on Curiosity's robotic arm.
 
When Curiosity cooked the perchlorate in its SAM oven, it created chlorinated methane compounds, one-carbon organic material. 
"The chlorine is of Martian orgin, but it's possible the carbon may be of Earth origin, carried by Curiosity and detected by SAM's high sensitivity design," NASA officials wrote in a statement.

The new findings by Curiosity came during the rover's study of a patch of windblown Martian dust and sand called "Rocknest." It is a flat stretch of Mars terrain that is still miles away from Curiosity's first destination, rock outcrop called Glenelg at the base of the 3-mile (5 kilometers) Mount Sharp that rises from the center of the rover's landing site — the vast Gale Crater.
 
While scientists puzzle out the validity of Curiosity's SAM signals, the rover's other instruments have made curious discoveries, as well, mission scientists said.
 
Curiosity's arm-mounted tools have confirmed that the Martian soil at the Rocknest site is similar in chemical composition and appearance to the dirt seen by NASA's three other rovers: the small Pathfinder, and golf cart-size Spirit and Opportunity rovers.
 
Photos from the rover's Mars hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, revealed that the sand drifts at Rocknest have a crusty surface that hides even darker, finer sand below.
 
"Active drifts on Mars look darker on the surface," MAHLI principal investigator Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego said in a statement."This is an older drift that has had time to be inactive, letting the crust form and dust accumulate on it."
 
Meanwhile, Curiosity's Chemical and Mineralogy detector, called CheMin, found that the terrain around Rocknest is a mix of volcanic and glassy, non-crystalline materials. While the rover found more evidence of water than expected, some water molecules bound to bits of sand were anticipated, scientists said.
 
The car-size Mars rover Curiosity landed on the Red Planet in early August. The $2.5 billion robot is the largest rover ever sent to another planet and is expected to spend at least two years exploring Gale Crater to determine if the region could have ever supported microbial life.
 
This story will be updated with more details from today's announcement shortly.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 04, 2012, 08:17:13 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Edgett-1-pia16468-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Edgett-3-pia16570-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mahaffy-1-pia16573-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mahaffy-2-pia16574-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mahaffy-3-pia16575-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mahaffy-4-pia16576-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 12, 2012, 12:05:08 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16459_MSL_TraverseMap_Sol123-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 19, 2012, 01:02:31 PM
Quote
PASADENA, Calif. -- The NASA Mars rover Curiosity this week is driving within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay," providing information to help researchers choose a rock to drill.
Using Curiosity's percussive drill to collect a sample from the interior of a rock, a feat never before attempted on Mars, is the mission's priority for early 2013. After the powdered-rock sample is sieved and portioned by a sample-processing mechanism on the rover's arm, it will be analyzed by instruments inside Curiosity.

Yellowknife Bay is within a different type of terrain from what the rover has traversed since landing inside Mars' Gale Crater on Aug. 5, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC). The terrain Curiosity has entered is one of three types that intersect at a location dubbed "Glenelg," chosen as an interim destination about two weeks after the landing.

Curiosity reached the lip of a 2-foot (half-meter) descent into Yellowknife Bay with a 46-foot (14-meter) drive on Dec. 11. The next day, a drive of about 86 feet (26.1 meters) brought the rover well inside the basin. The team has been employing the Mast Camera (Mastcam) and the laser-wielding Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) for remote-sensing studies of rocks along the way.

On Dec. 14, Curiosity drove about 108 feet (32.8 meters) to reach rock targets of interest called "Costello" and "Flaherty." Researchers used the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) at the end of the rover's arm to examine the targets. After finishing those studies, the rover drove again on Dec. 17, traveling about 18 feet (5.6 meters) farther into Yellowknife Bay. That brings the mission's total driving distance to 0.42 mile (677 meters) since Curiosity's landing.

One additional drive is planned this week before the rover team gets a holiday break. Curiosity will continue studying the Martian environment from its holiday location at the end point of that drive within Yellowknife Bay. The mission's plans for most of 2013 center on driving toward the primary science destination, a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer) layered mound called Mount Sharp.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity during a two-year prime mission to assess whether areas inside Gale Crater ever offered a habitable environment for microbes. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ . You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16554-sol130-map-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 15, 2013, 03:27:22 PM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1410

Quote
01.15.2013
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA Mars Rover Preparing To Drill Into First Martian Rock

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16567annotated-br.jpg)

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is driving toward a flat rock with pale veins that may hold clues to a wet history on the Red Planet. If the rock meets rover engineers' approval when Curiosity rolls up to it in coming days, it will become the first to be drilled for a sample during the Mars Science Laboratory mission.
The size of a car, Curiosity is inside Mars' Gale Crater investigating whether the planet ever offered an environment favorable for microbial life. Curiosity landed in the crater five months ago to begin its two-year prime mission.

"Drilling into a rock to collect a sample will be this mission's most challenging activity since the landing. It has never been done on Mars," said Mars Science Laboratory project manager Richard Cook of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The drill hardware interacts energetically with Martian material we don't control. We won't be surprised if some steps in the process don't go exactly as planned the first time through."

Curiosity first will gather powdered samples from inside the rock and use those to scrub the drill. Then the rover will drill and ingest more samples from this rock, which it will analyze for information about its mineral and chemical composition.

The chosen rock is in an area where Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) and other cameras have revealed diverse unexpected features, including veins, nodules, cross-bedded layering, a lustrous pebble embedded in sandstone, and possibly some holes in the ground.

The rock chosen for drilling is called "John Klein" in tribute to former Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager John W. Klein, who died in 2011.

"John's leadership skill played a crucial role in making Curiosity a reality," said Cook.

The target is on flat-lying bedrock within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay." The terrain in this area differs from that of the landing site, a dry streambed about a third of a mile (about 500 meters) to the west. Curiosity's science team decided to look there for a first drilling target because orbital observations showed fractured ground that cools more slowly each night than nearby terrain types do.
"The orbital signal drew us here, but what we found when we arrived has been a great surprise," said Mars Science Laboratory project scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "This area had a different type of wet environment than the streambed where we landed, maybe a few different types of wet environments."

One line of evidence comes from inspection of light-toned veins with Curiosity's laser-pulsing Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, which found elevated levels of calcium, sulfur and hydrogen.

"These veins are likely composed of hydrated calcium sulfate, such as bassinite or gypsum," said ChemCam team member Nicolas Mangold of the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes in France. "On Earth, forming veins like these requires water circulating in fractures."

Researchers have used the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to examine sedimentary rocks in the area. Some are sandstone, with grains up to about peppercorn size. One grain has an interesting gleam and bud-like shape that have brought it Internet buzz as a "Martian flower." Other rocks nearby are siltstone, with grains finer than powdered sugar. These differ significantly from pebbly conglomerate rocks in the landing area.

"All of these are sedimentary rocks, telling us Mars had environments actively depositing material here," said MAHLI deputy principal investigator Aileen Yingst of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz. "The different grain sizes tell us about different transport conditions."

JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

To see an image of the rock, visit: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16567 .

For more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . Follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .


Quote
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16705annotated-br.jpg)

01.15.2013
Veins in 'Sheepbed' Outcrop 
This image of an outcrop at the "Sheepbed" locality, taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover with its right Mast Camera (Mastcam), shows show well-defined veins filled with whitish minerals, interpreted as calcium sulfate.

These veins form when water circulates through fractures, depositing minerals along the sides of the fracture, to form a vein. These veins are Curiosity's first look at minerals that formed within water that percolated within a subsurface environment. These vein fills are characteristic of the stratigraphically lowest unit in the "Yellowknife Bay" area -- known as the Sheepbed Unit.

Mastcam obtained these images the 126th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's mission on Mars (Dec. 13, 2012). The view covers an area about 16 inches (40 centimeters) across. A superimposed scale bar is 8 centimeters (3.15 inch) long. An unannotated version is also available.

The image has been white-balanced to show what the rock would look like if it were on Earth.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
 

Quote
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16708-br.jpg)

01.15.2013
Curiosity's Traverse into Different Terrain 
This image maps the traverse of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity from "Bradbury Landing" to "Yellowknife Bay," with an inset documenting a change in the ground's thermal properties with arrival at a different type of terrain.

Between Sol (Martian day) 120 and Sol 121 of the mission on Mars (Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, 2012), Curiosity crossed over a terrain boundary into lighter-toned rocks that correspond to high thermal inertia values observed by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The green dashed line marks the boundary between the terrain types. The inset graphs the range in ground temperature recorded each day by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) on Curiosity. Note that the arrival onto the lighter-toned terrain corresponds with an abrupt shift in the range of daily ground temperatures to a consistently smaller spread in values. This independently signals the same transition seen from orbit, and marks the arrival at well-exposed, stratified bedrock.

Sol 121 (Dec. 8, 2012) marks the arrival at the Shaler Unit where scientists saw cross-bedding that is evidence of water flows. Sol 124 (Dec. 11, 2012) marks the arrival into an area called "Yellowknife Bay," where sulfate-filled veins and concretions were discovered in the Sheepbed Unit, along with much finer-grained sediments. The thin dashed line is based on Odyssey thermal inertia mapping in 2005 by Robin Fergason and co-authors.

The mapped area is within Gale Crater and north of the mountain called Mount Sharp in the middle of the crater. After the first use of the drill, the rover's main science destination will be on the lower reaches of Mount Sharp. For broader-context images of the area, see PIA16064 and PIA16058.

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/CAB(CSIC-INTA)/FMI
 

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 08, 2013, 12:43:29 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16762-br.gif)

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PASADENA, Calif. - The drill on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used both percussion and rotation to bore about 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) into a rock on Mars and generate cuttings for evaluation in advance of the rover's first sample-collection drilling.
Completion of this "mini drill" test in preparation for full drilling was confirmed in data from Mars received late Wednesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. If the drill cuttings on the ground around the fresh hole pass visual evaluation as suitable for processing by the rover's sample handling mechanisms, the rover team plans to proceed with commanding the first full drilling in coming days.

An image of the hole and surrounding cuttings produced by the mini drill test is online at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16760 .

The test was performed on a patch of flat, vein-bearing rock called "John Klein." The locations of earlier percussion-only testing and planned sample-collection drilling are also on John Klein. Pre-drilling observations of this rock yielded indications of one or more episodes of wet environmental conditions. The team plans to use Curiosity's laboratory instruments to analyze sample powder from inside the rock to learn more about the site's environmental history.

The planned full drilling will be the first rock drilling on Mars to collect a sample of material for analysis.

During a two-year prime mission, researchers are using Curiosity's 10 science instruments to assess whether the study area in Gale Crater on Mars ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

2013-051

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16760_MAHLI-Sol180-mini-drill-br.jpg)
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16761_MAHLI-Sol180-mini-drill-5cm-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 11, 2013, 08:08:54 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16726-br.jpg)

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02.09.2013
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Curiosity Rover Collects First Martian Bedrock Sample

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a flat, veiny rock on Mars and collect a sample from its interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars.
The fresh hole, about 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) wide and 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, can be seen in images and other data Curiosity beamed to Earth Saturday. The rock is believed to hold evidence about long-gone wet environments. In pursuit of that evidence, the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill.

"The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars," said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission Directorate. "This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August, another proud day for America."

For the next several days, ground controllers will command the rover's arm to carry out a series of steps to process the sample, ultimately delivering portions to the instruments inside.

"We commanded the first full-depth drilling, and we believe we have collected sufficient material from the rock to meet our objectives of hardware cleaning and sample drop-off," said Avi Okon, drill cognizant engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Rock powder generated during drilling travels up flutes on the bit. The bit assembly has chambers to hold the powder until it can be transferred to the sample-handling mechanisms of the rover's Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device.

Before the rock powder is analyzed, some will be used to scour traces of material that may have been deposited onto the hardware while the rover was still on Earth, despite thorough cleaning before launch.

"We'll take the powder we acquired and swish it around to scrub the internal surfaces of the drill bit assembly," said JPL's Scott McCloskey, drill systems engineer. "Then we'll use the arm to transfer the powder out of the drill into the scoop, which will be our first chance to see the acquired sample."

"Building a tool to interact forcefully with unpredictable rocks on Mars required an ambitious development and testing program," said JPL's Louise Jandura, chief engineer for Curiosity's sample system. "To get to the point of making this hole in a rock on Mars, we made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rock on Earth."
Inside the sample-handling device, the powder will be vibrated once or twice over a sieve that screens out any particles larger than six-thousandths of an inch (150 microns) across. Small portions of the sieved sample will fall through ports on the rover deck into the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. These instruments then will begin the much-anticipated detailed analysis.

The rock Curiosity drilled is called "John Klein" in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011. Drilling for a sample is the last new activity for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project, which is using the car-size Curiosity rover to investigate whether an area within Mars' Gale Crater has ever offered an environment favorable for life.

JPL manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For images and more information about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 19, 2013, 08:28:14 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16765-Fig1_RMI_Sol183-annotated-br.jpg)

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02.13.2013
Laser Hits on Martian Drill Tailings (Annotated) 
A day after NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drilled the first sample-collection hole into a rock on Mars, the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument shot laser pulses into the fresh rock powder that the drilling generated. This scene shows a line of pits left by laser hits on the drill tailings. The view is an annotated mosaic of images taken by the remote micro-imager in ChemCam, with color information from Curiosity's Mast Camera.

The drilled hole, at lower center, is about 0.6 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter. Curiosity drilled the hole 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) deep during the 182nd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (Feb. 8, 2013). ChemCam repeatedly zapped several points near the hole on Sol 183 (Feb. 9, 2013) to obtain spectra providing information about composition, and then on the same sol took the images that have been combined to create this view. Arrows at 10 locations indicate the marks from the laser hits.

The site is on a patch of flat rock called "John Klein" in the "Yellowknife Bay" area of Mars' Gale Crater.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/IRAP/CNES/LPGNantes/IAS/CNRS/MSSS
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 21, 2013, 09:35:17 AM
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02.20.2013
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Rover Confirms First Drilled Mars Rock Sample

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has relayed new images that confirm it has successfully obtained the first sample ever collected from the interior of a rock on another planet. No rover has ever drilled into a rock beyond Earth and collected a sample from its interior.
Transfer of the powdered-rock sample into an open scoop was visible for the first time in images received Wednesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Seeing the powder from the drill in the scoop allows us to verify for the first time the drill collected a sample as it bore into the rock," said JPL's Scott McCloskey, drill systems engineer for Curiosity. "Many of us have been working toward this day for years. Getting final confirmation of successful drilling is incredibly gratifying. For the sampling team, this is the equivalent of the landing team going crazy after the successful touchdown."

The drill on Curiosity's robotic arm took in the powder as it bored a 2.5-inch (6.4-centimeter) hole into a target on flat Martian bedrock on Feb. 8. The rover team plans to have Curiosity sieve the sample and deliver portions of it to analytical instruments inside the rover.

The scoop now holding the precious sample is part of Curiosity's Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device. During the next steps of processing, the powder will be enclosed inside CHIMRA and shaken once or twice over a sieve that screens out particles larger than 0.006 inch (150 microns) across.

Small portions of the sieved sample later will be delivered through inlet ports on top of the rover deck into the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

In response to information gained during testing at JPL, the processing and delivery plan has been adjusted to reduce use of mechanical vibration. The 150-micron screen in one of the two test versions of CHIMRA became partially detached after extensive use, although it remained usable. The team has added precautions for use of Curiosity's sampling system while continuing to study the cause and ramifications of the separation.

The sample comes from a fine-grained, veiny sedimentary rock called "John Klein," named in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011. The rock was selected for the first sample drilling because it may hold evidence of wet environmental conditions long ago. The rover's laboratory analysis of the powder may provide information about those conditions.
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using the Curiosity rover with its 10 science instruments to investigate whether an area within Mars' Gale Crater ever has offered an environment favorable for microbial life. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/McCloskey-1pia16729main-br.jpg)

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02.20.2013
First Curiosity Drilling Sample in the Scoop 
This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover's scoop. In planned subsequent steps, the sample will be sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.

The scoop is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide.

The image was obtained by Curiosity's Mast Camera on Feb. 20, or Sol 193, Curiosity's 193rd Martian day of operations.

The image has been white-balanced to show what the sample would look like if it were on Earth. A raw-color version is also available.
 

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16688-br.jpg)

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02.20.2013
Sifting Martian Samples 
This image shows the location of the 150-micrometer sieve screen on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, a device used to remove larger particles from samples before delivery to science instruments. The sieve lies within the Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) structure, which is on the end of the rover's turret, or arm.

This picture was taken by the rover's Mast Camera on Sol 81, the 81st Martian day of the mission (Oct. 28, 2012). The color has been white-balanced to show the scene as it would appear on Earth.
 

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16727-br.jpg)

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02.20.2013
Views of Curiosity's Drill 
These schematic drawings show a top view and a cutaway view of a section of the drill on NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars. The section view on the right also indicates the flow of material within the drill bit.
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 01, 2013, 10:13:27 AM
Quote
02.28.2013
Computer Swap on Curiosity Rover

PASADENA, Calif. - The ground team for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has switched the rover to a redundant onboard computer in response to a memory issue on the computer that had been active.
The intentional swap at about 2:30 a.m. PST today (Thursday, Feb. 28) put the rover, as anticipated, into a minimal-activity precautionary status called "safe mode." The team is shifting the rover from safe mode to operational status over the next few days and is troubleshooting the condition that affected operations yesterday. The condition is related to a glitch in flash memory linked to the other, now-inactive, computer.

"We switched computers to get to a standard state from which to begin restoring routine operations," said Richard Cook of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, project manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates Curiosity.

Like many spacecraft, Curiosity carries a pair of redundant main computers in order to have a backup available if one fails. Each of the computers, A-side and B-side, also has other redundant subsystems linked to just that computer. Curiosity is now operating on its B-side, as it did during part of the flight from Earth to Mars. It operated on its A-side from before the August 2012 landing through Wednesday.

"While we are resuming operations on the B-side, we are also working to determine the best way to restore the A-side as a viable backup," said JPL engineer Magdy Bareh, leader of the mission's anomaly resolution team.

The spacecraft remained in communications at all scheduled communication windows on Wednesday, but it did not send recorded data, only current status information. The status information revealed that the computer had not switched to the usual daily "sleep" mode when planned. Diagnostic work in a testing simulation at JPL indicates the situation involved corrupted memory at an A-side memory location used for addressing memory files.

Scientific investigations by the rover were suspended Wednesday and today. Resumption of science investigations is anticipated within several days. This week, laboratory instruments inside the rover have been analyzing portions of the first sample of rock powder ever collected from the interior of a rock on Mars.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess whether areas inside Gale Crater ever offered a habitable environment for microbes. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Adam W on March 01, 2013, 10:21:55 AM
Quote
02.28.2013
Computer Swap on Curiosity Rover

PASADENA, Calif. - The ground team for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has switched the rover to a redundant onboard computer in response to a memory issue on the computer that had been active.
The intentional swap at about 2:30 a.m. PST today (Thursday, Feb. 28) put the rover, as anticipated, into a minimal-activity precautionary status called "safe mode." The team is shifting the rover from safe mode to operational status over the next few days and is troubleshooting the condition that affected operations yesterday. The condition is related to a glitch in flash memory linked to the other, now-inactive, computer.

"We switched computers to get to a standard state from which to begin restoring routine operations," said Richard Cook of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, project manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates Curiosity.

Like many spacecraft, Curiosity carries a pair of redundant main computers in order to have a backup available if one fails. Each of the computers, A-side and B-side, also has other redundant subsystems linked to just that computer. Curiosity is now operating on its B-side, as it did during part of the flight from Earth to Mars. It operated on its A-side from before the August 2012 landing through Wednesday.

"While we are resuming operations on the B-side, we are also working to determine the best way to restore the A-side as a viable backup," said JPL engineer Magdy Bareh, leader of the mission's anomaly resolution team.

The spacecraft remained in communications at all scheduled communication windows on Wednesday, but it did not send recorded data, only current status information. The status information revealed that the computer had not switched to the usual daily "sleep" mode when planned. Diagnostic work in a testing simulation at JPL indicates the situation involved corrupted memory at an A-side memory location used for addressing memory files.

Scientific investigations by the rover were suspended Wednesday and today. Resumption of science investigations is anticipated within several days. This week, laboratory instruments inside the rover have been analyzing portions of the first sample of rock powder ever collected from the interior of a rock on Mars.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess whether areas inside Gale Crater ever offered a habitable environment for microbes. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

I wonder if Howard Wolowitz was "entertaining" any ladies in the control room again...
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on March 01, 2013, 02:13:47 PM
^ Hopefully he gets his space toilet figured out before we send some earthlings to Mars.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 13, 2013, 09:13:29 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1438

Quote
03.12.2013
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited For Ancient Life On Mars

PASADENA, Calif. -- An analysis of a rock sample collected by NASA's Curiosity rover shows ancient Mars could have supported living microbes.

Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon -- some of the key chemical ingredients for life -- in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.

"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."

Clues to this habitable environment come from data returned by the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments. The data indicate the Yellowknife Bay area the rover is exploring was the end of an ancient river system or an intermittently wet lake bed that could have provided chemical energy and other favorable conditions for microbes. The rock is made up of a fine-grained mudstone containing clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals. This ancient wet environment, unlike some others on Mars, was not harshly oxidizing, acidic or extremely salty.

The patch of bedrock where Curiosity drilled for its first sample lies in an ancient network of stream channels descending from the rim of Gale Crater. The bedrock also is fine-grained mudstone and shows evidence of multiple periods of wet conditions, including nodules and veins.

Curiosity's drill collected the sample at a site just a few hundred yards away from where the rover earlier found an ancient streambed in September 2012.

"Clay minerals make up at least 20 percent of the composition of this sample," said David Blake, principal investigator for the CheMin instrument at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

These clay minerals are a product of the reaction of relatively fresh water with igneous minerals, such as olivine, also present in the sediment. The reaction could have taken place within the sedimentary deposit, during transport of the sediment, or in the source region of the sediment. The presence of calcium sulfate along with the clay suggests the soil is neutral or mildly alkaline.

Scientists were surprised to find a mixture of oxidized, less-oxidized, and even non-oxidized chemicals, providing an energy gradient of the sort many microbes on Earth exploit to live. This partial oxidation was first hinted at when the drill cuttings were revealed to be gray rather than red.
"The range of chemical ingredients we have identified in the sample is impressive, and it suggests pairings such as sulfates and sulfides that indicate a possible chemical energy source for micro-organisms," said Paul Mahaffy, principal investigator of the SAM suite of instruments at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

An additional drilled sample will be used to help confirm these results for several of the trace gases analyzed by the SAM instrument.

"We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new 'gray Mars' where conditions once were favorable for life," said John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "Curiosity is on a mission of discovery and exploration, and as a team we feel there are many more exciting discoveries ahead of us in the months and years to come."

Scientists plan to work with Curiosity in the "Yellowknife Bay" area for many more weeks before beginning a long drive to Gale Crater's central mound, Mount Sharp. Investigating the stack of layers exposed on Mount Sharp, where clay minerals and sulfate minerals have been identified from orbit, may add information about the duration and diversity of habitable conditions.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project has been using Curiosity to investigate whether an area within Mars' Gale Crater ever has offered an environment favorable for microbial life. Curiosity, carrying 10 science instruments, landed seven months ago to begin its two-year prime mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more about the mission, visit: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia16833-br.jpg)

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03.12.2013
Two Different Aqueous Environments 
This set of images compares rocks seen by NASA's Opportunity rover and Curiosity rover at two different parts of Mars. On the left is " Wopmay" rock, in Endurance Crater, Meridiani Planum, as studied by the Opportunity rover. On the right are the rocks of the "Sheepbed" unit in Yellowknife Bay, in Gale Crater, as seen by Curiosity.

The rock on the left is formed from sulfate-rich sandstone. Scientists think the particles were in part formed and cemented in the presence of water. They also think the concretions (spherical bumps distributed across rock face) were formed in the presence of water. The Meridiani rocks record an ancient aqueous environment that likely was not habitable due the extremely high acidity of the water, the very limited chemical gradients that would have restricted energy available, and the extreme salinity that would have impeded microbial metabolism -- if microrganisms had ever been present.

In the Sheepbed image on the right, these very fine-grained sediments represent the record of an ancient habitable environment. The Sheepbed sediments were likely deposited under water. Scientists think the water cemented the sediments, and also formed the concretions. The rock was then fractured and filled with sulfate minerals when water flowed through subsurface fracture networks (white lines running through rock). Data from several instruments on Curiosity -- the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer, the Chemistry and Camera instrument, the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument, the Mars Hand Lens Imager, the Mast Camera, and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument -- all support these interpretations. They indicate a habitable environment characterized by neutral pH, chemical gradients that would have created energy for microbes, and a distinctly low salinity, which would have helped metabolism if microorganisms had ever been present.

Both color images have been white-balanced using the same technique to show roughly what they would look like if they were on Earth.

The "true color" image from Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) was acquired on Sol 250 (the 250th Martian day of Opportunity's operations, which was Oct. 6, 2004, on Earth).

The image from Sheepbed was from Curiosity's Mast Camera on Sol 192 (the 192d Martian day of Curiosity's operations, which was Feb. 18, 2013, on Earth).

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/MSSS
 

 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 19, 2013, 09:01:29 AM
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-03/mars-rover-curiosity-uncovers-watery-past-lots-gale-crater

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Mars Rover Curiosity Uncovers A Watery Past Throughout Gale Crater

All around the site where the rover drilled its first sample, evidence shows the rocks formed in watery conditions.

By Rebecca BoylePosted 03.18.2013 at 3:33 pm

The Mars rover Curiosity's home in Gale Crater may be dry now, but it was definitely wet long, long ago, scientists said Monday. Curiosity has seen evidence of wet conditions all around the area where it drilled last month and has been parked in safe mode for a while.
 
The watery conditions extend beyond the site of Curiosity's drilling, according to NASA.

Scientists working with Curiosity keep noticing some interesting coloration in the rocks in Yellowknife Bay, where the rover has been exploring. Some of the rocks contain fissures, and bright veins crisscross their surfaces. Using a sensitive neutron instrument and the rover's infrared cameras, scientists were able to study these veins in great detail, and determine they contain signs of water.
 
"With Mastcam, we see elevated hydration signals in the narrow veins that cut many of the rocks in this area," said Melissa Rice of Caltech. "These bright veins contain hydrated minerals that are different from the clay minerals in the surrounding rock matrix."

That's interesting because it lends further credence to the idea that Gale Crater could have been hospitable for life. Curiosity's science team announced last week that past environmental conditions there were favorable for microbes. Now it looks like this is true across a broad swath of the area. It's also worth noting that this water apparently didn't change the rocks' chemical composition very much.

The rover's Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument, or DAN, detected hydrogen in water molecules that are bound up inside minerals in the rock. There's a lot of variation in its location, but there is more in Yellowknife Bay than earlier on Curiosity's traverse, according to Maxim Litvak, deputy principal investigator for the DAN instrument at the Science Research Institute in Moscow.

Once Curiosity gets rolling again, it will cross another potentially interesting geologic boundary where scientists could find even more water evidence, Litvak said.
 
"We are looking forward for the next drive," he said in a news conference.

(http://www.popsci.com/files/imagecache/article_image_large/articles/734592main_PIA16794-946.jpg)
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Hydration Map at Knorr Rock On this image of the rock target "Knorr," colors map the amount of mineral hydration indicated by a ratio of near-infrared reflectance intensities measured by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. The color scale on the right shows the assignment of colors for relative strength of the calculated signal for hydration. The map shows that the stronger signals for hydration are associated with pale veins and light-toned nodules in the rock. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/ASU
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: mbwright on March 19, 2013, 10:14:40 AM
This is really amazing technology.  It's sad to see the space shuttle program dismantled, and losing direction.  Some really great products have come out of NASA research.

We can communicate with a robot on Mars, but I can't get cell coverage at my house and elsewhere with AT&T.  Something is so wrong.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 09, 2013, 08:26:19 AM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829163.600-mars-rover-wakes-up-gets-better-laser-aiming.html

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Mars rover wakes up, gets better laser aiming

SPRING break is over for NASA's Mars rover. But before it can get to work, Curiosity will receive some upgrades, such as the ability to fire its laser with more autonomy.

The rover had gone into standby mode throughout April, when Mars went behind the sun from our perspective. Limited radio communications made it too difficult for drivers on Earth to send Curiosity new commands.

The blackout left the team with a cliffhanger: in March, Curiosity had delivered the first chemical evidence of an ancient life-friendly environment on Mars.

The rover woke up on 1 May and is transitioning to new software. As a result, the ChemCam tool, which shoots rocks with a laser to analyse the resulting puff of gas, will be able to auto-adjust to avoid glare from the sun, letting it aim at a wider range of rocks.

After the upgrade, Curiosity will try to confirm the habitable conditions at its current site, says mission lead scientist John Grotzinger. "After that, we're likely to begin the trek to Mount Sharp," a layered mountain that should show how the Martian surface has changed over time.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 29, 2013, 10:32:11 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA16935-br.gif)

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PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has used the drill on its robotic arm to collect a powdered sample from the interior of a rock called "Cumberland."
Plans call for delivering portions of the sample in coming days to laboratory instruments inside the rover. This is only the second time that a sample has been collected from inside a rock on Mars. The first was Curiosity's drilling at a target called "John Klein" three months ago. Cumberland resembles John Klein and lies about nine feet (2.75 meters) farther west. Both are within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay."

The hole that Curiosity drilled into Cumberland on May 19 is about 0.6 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter and about 2.6 inches (6.6 centimeters) deep.

The science team expects to use analysis of material from Cumberland to check findings from John Klein. Preliminary findings from analysis of John Klein rock powder by Curiosity's onboard laboratory instruments indicate that the location long ago had environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. The favorable conditions included the key elemental ingredients for life, an energy gradient that could be exploited by microbes, and water that was not harshly acidic or briny.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess the history of habitable environmental conditions inside Gale Crater. After a few more high-priority observations by the rover within and near Yellowknife Bay, the rover team plans to start Curiosity on a months-long trek to the base of a layered mound, Mount Sharp, at the middle of the crater. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 29, 2013, 10:37:31 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol166-fi.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 24, 2013, 01:00:48 PM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1498

Quote
07.23.2013
Curiosity Makes Its Longest One-Day Drive on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove twice as far on July 21 as on any other day of the mission so far: 109.7 yards (100.3 meters).
The length of the drive took advantage of starting the 340th Martian day, or sol, of the mission from a location with an unusually good view for rover engineers to plan a safe path. In weeks to come, the rover team plans to begin using "autonav" capability for the rover to autonomously navigate a path for itself, which could make such long drives more frequent.

Curiosity is about three weeks into a multi-month trek, from the "Glenelg" area where it worked for the first half of 2013, to an entry point for the mission's major destination: the lower layers of Mount Sharp. The mission's longest one-day drive prior to July 21 was about 54 yards (49 meters), on Sol 50 (Sept. 26, 2012). After completing the longer drive, Curiosity drove 68.2 yards (62.4 meters) on July 23 (Sol 342), bringing the mission's total driving distance so far to 0.81 mile (1.23 kilometers).

The Sol 340 drive included three segments, with turns at the end of the first and second segments. Rover planners used information from stereo imaging by the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on Curiosity's mast, plus images from the telephoto-lens Mast Camera (Mastcam). The drive also used the rover's capability to use imagery taken during the drive to calculate the driving distance, a way to verify that wheels have not been slipping too much while turning.

"What enabled us to drive so far on Sol 340 was starting at a high point and also having Mastcam images giving us the size of rocks so we could be sure they were not hazards," said rover planner Paolo Bellutta of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We could see for quite a distance, but there was an area straight ahead that was not clearly visible, so we had to find a path around that area."

The rover was facing southwest when the sol began. It turned slightly more to the west before driving and used visual odometry to be sure it drove the intended distance (about 55 yards or 50 meters) before turning back farther southward. The second leg, next turn, and third leg completed the drive without visual odometry, though the rover was using another new capability: to turn on visual odometry autonomously if tilt or other factors exceed predetermined limits.

New software on Curiosity gives it the capability to use visual odometry through a range of temperatures. This was needed because testing this spring indicated the Navcam pair linked to the rover's B-side computer is more sensitive to temperature than anticipated. Without the compensating software, the onboard analysis of stereo images could indicate different distances to the same point, depending on the temperature at which the images are taken. The rover was switched from its A-side computer to the redundant B-side computer on Feb. 28 due to a flash-memory problem -- subsequently resolved -- on the A-side. The Navcam pair linked to the A-side computer shows less variability with temperature than the pair now in use.

"For now, we're using visual odometry mostly for slip-checking," said JPL's Jennifer Trosper, deputy project manager for Curiosity. "We are validating the capability to begin using autonav at different temperatures."

The autonomous navigation capability will enable rover planners to command drives that go beyond the route that they can confirm as safe from previous-sol images. They can tell the rover to use the autonomous capability to choose a safe path for itself beyond that distance.

Curiosity landed at the "Bradbury Landing" location within Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012, EDT and Universal Time (Aug. 5, PDT). From there, the rover drove eastward to the Glenelg area, where it accomplished the mission's major science objective of finding evidence for an ancient wet environment that had conditions favorable for microbial life. The rover's route is now southwestward. At Mount Sharp, in the middle of Gale Crater, scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's 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.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ . You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA17081_sol340_MAHLI-br.jpg)

Quote
07.23.2013
View From Curiosity's Arm-Mounted Camera After a Long Drive 
The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity rover is carried at an angle when the rover's arm is stowed for driving. Still, the camera is able to record views of the terrain Curiosity is crossing in Gale Crater, and rotating the image 150 degrees provides this right-side-up scene. The scene is toward the south, including a portion of Mount Sharp and a band of dark dunes in front of the mountain. It was taken on the 340th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars, shortly after Curiosity finished a 329.1-foot (100.3-meter) drive on that sol. The drive was twice as long as any previous sol's drive by Curiosity.

When the robotic arm, turret, and MAHLI are stowed, the MAHLI is looking out from the front left side of the rover. This is much like the view from the driver's side of cars sold in the USA.

The main purpose of Curiosity's MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover's Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity. This means it can, as shown here, also obtain pictures of the Martian landscape.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 10, 2013, 10:36:17 AM
Year 1 in 2 minutes...  8)

http://www.youtube.com/v/p83pSCm5ZMU

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 23, 2013, 10:10:08 AM
Curiosity Rover Report (08.22.13): The Odometer Keeps Turning

http://www.youtube.com/v/ryZatqbdnDw

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 30, 2013, 08:26:00 AM
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-259

Quote
NASA'S Mars Curiosity Debuts Autonomous Navigation

August 27, 2013

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, a capability that lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars.
 
This latest addition to Curiosity's array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars. The capability uses software that engineers adapted to this larger and more complex vehicle from a similar capability used by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which is also currently active on Mars.
 
Using autonomous navigation, or autonav, Curiosity can analyze images it takes during a drive to calculate a safe driving path. This enables it to proceed safely even beyond the area that the human rover drivers on Earth can evaluate ahead of time.
 
On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Curiosity successfully used autonomous navigation to drive onto ground that could not be confirmed safe before the start of the drive. This was a first for Curiosity. In a preparatory test last week, Curiosity plotted part of a drive for itself, but kept within an area that operators had identified in advance as safe.
 
"Curiosity takes several sets of stereo pairs of images, and the rover's computer processes that information to map any geometric hazard or rough terrain," said Mark Maimone, rover mobility engineer and rover driver at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The rover considers all the paths it could take to get to the designated endpoint for the drive and chooses the best one."
 
The drive on Tuesday, the mission's 376th Martian day, or "sol," took Curiosity across a depression where ground-surface details had not been visible from the location where the previous drive ended. The drive included about 33 feet (10 meters) of autonomous navigation across hidden ground as part of a day's total drive of about 141 feet (43 meters).
 
"We could see the area before the dip, and we told the rover where to drive on that part. We could see the ground on the other side, where we designated a point for the rover to end the drive, but Curiosity figured out for herself how to drive the uncharted part in between," said JPL's John Wright, a rover driver.
 
Curiosity is nearly two months into a multi-month trek from the "Glenelg" area, where it worked for the first half of 2013, to an entry point for the mission's major destination: the lower layers of a 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mound called Mount Sharp.
 
The latest drive brought the distance traveled since leaving Glenelg to 0.86 mile (1.39 kilometers). The remaining distance to the Mount Sharp entry point is about 4.46 miles (7.18 kilometers) along a "rapid transit route." That route was plotted on the basis of images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The actual driving route, which will be based on images from Curiosity's own cameras, could be longer or shorter.
 
Curiosity's science team has picked a few waypoints along the rapid transit route to Mount Sharp where driving may be suspended for a few days for science. The rover has about 0.31 mile (500 meters) left to go before reaching the first of these waypoints, which appears from orbiter images to offer exposed bedrock for inspection.
 
"Each waypoint represents an opportunity for Curiosity to pause during its long journey to Mount Sharp and study features of local interest," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "These features are geologically interesting, based on HiRISE images, and they lie very close to the path that provides the most expeditious route to the base of Mount Sharp. We'll study each for several sols, perhaps selecting one for drilling if it looks sufficiently interesting."
 
After landing inside Gale Crater in August 2012, Curiosity drove eastward to the Glenelg area, where it accomplished the mission's major science objective of finding evidence for an ancient wet environment that had conditions favorable for microbial life. The rover's route is now southwestward. At Mount Sharp, in the middle of Gale Crater, scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved.
 
JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.
 
More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ . You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

(http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/images/mediumsize/PIA17355_ip.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 20, 2013, 08:55:14 AM
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/curiosity-still-finding-little-methane-mars

Quote
Mars Is Probably Not Home To Life, According To Sad New Study

 A new analysis from the rover Curiosity found just one-sixth as much methane as previous studies. Methane gas can be a sign of microbial life, so this is disappointing news.

By Francie Diep Posted 09.19.2013 at 2:00 pm

Hold your horses (cows?), guys. A new analysis of data from the Curiosity rover found there's very little methane in the atmosphere of Mars. Methane gas can be a sign of biological activity—of microbial Martians, farting up the atmosphere—so we're feeling a bit disappointed.
 
At most, the Martian atmosphere has a methane concentration of 1.3 parts per billion, according to the new analysis. That's one-sixth as much as previous estimates. The measurement means there's little chance methane-producing organisms are currently living on Mars, the researchers wrote in a paper they published today in the journal Science.
 
The data came from Curiosity's Tunable Laser Spectrometer, which was specially designed to look for methane gas. The instrument has not detected any methane to date. (The team last gave us a similarly sad update on Curiosity's findings in late 2012).
 
Previous studies of methane on Mars, conducted using data from telescopes based on Earth and in orbit around the red planet, have found more of the gas. Some analyses have found different concentrations of methane at different sites on the planet, or at different times of year. In 2003, one team reported seeing strong plumes of methane at a different location than where Curiosity sampled. That 2003 study has been controversial among astronomers.
 
There are micro-organisms that don't produce methane, so we're not totally giving up on the possibility of Martians just yet.
 
Nor does the presence of methane mean there definitely is, or was, something living on a planet. If the Mars air does contain methane, it could come from living organisms, extinct organisms, or geological (not biological) processes within the planet itself. It could have also been carried there from elsewhere in space.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on September 20, 2013, 09:17:41 AM
At least they're not giving up.  IMO, too many scientists guage the possibility of life on other planets with what we know about life on our own.  The must be many many other ways life can form given the plethora of different planetary conditions throughout the universe.

Could life on another planet only be carbon based?  Silicon based? OR could it be something else all thogether?  Some element we don't know about?   IMO, it seems more likely that it IS something else.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 26, 2013, 08:24:42 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/-A9lNVCgb3w

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 25, 2013, 11:09:53 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0431_fcalef-br2.jpg)

Quote
10.23.2013
Curiosity's Traverse Map Through Sol 431 
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 431 Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (October 23, 2013).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 200 meters (656 feet). From Sol 429 to Sol 431, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 202.07 feet (61.59 meters).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
 

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Sol_431_Curiosity_Location-br2.jpg)

Quote
Curiosity Rover's Location for Sol 431 
This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 431 Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (October 23, 2013).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. From Sol 429 to Sol 431, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 202.07 feet (61.59 meters).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 10, 2013, 07:17:11 AM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24724-surprisingly-youthful-mars-surface-helps-alien-hunt.html?full=true

Quote
Surprisingly youthful Mars surface helps alien hunt

17:43 09 December 2013 by Lisa Grossman


Good news for the alien hunt. If Mars once hosted life, it now looks more likely than ever that the Curiosity rover currently trundling around the planet could find traces of it.

Using a surprise capability that Curiosity only acquired at the last minute, the NASA rover has carried out the first ever chemical dating of rocks on another planet. This revealed that parts of the Martian surface have spent about 80 million years being fried by cosmic radiation – an age in human terms but much less time than previously thought.

"That's really young," says rover project scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology, who presented the results today at an annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. "Most people expected that a given rock on the surface of Mars would have been around for hundreds of millions of years, if not billions of years. So it came as a shock."

The relative youth of these surfaces raises hopes that any microbes that once lived in the Martian rocks could be detected without having to dig underground. What's more, further analyses suggest the rocks once hosted a lake that could have lasted long enough for life to get a toehold.

Clay minerals

Finding out whether Mars was once habitable was Curiosity's main goal when it landed on the planet in August 2012. But the rover team didn't expect any answers until sometime next year , when the rover is due to reach a 5-kilometre-high mound of layered sediments called Mount Sharp.

Instead, they got lucky. The rover's first sample of rock, drilled on 9 February in an area called Yellowknife Bay, contained evidence of clay minerals that were laid down in the presence of water. Other minerals indicated that the water was not acidic and carried substances capable of supplying microbes with energy.

That would make a nice home for simple microbes called chemolithoautotrophs, which on Earth are found in caves and hydrothermal vents. But it was unclear whether the body of water at Yellowknife Bay existed for long enough for life to get going. "Usually we sort of duck that question," Grotzinger says.

Even if the lake had lasted long enough, it was also unclear whether any microbes would still be detectable in the rocks, since Mars's warm, wet period is thought to have been about 4 billion years ago.

Underground network

The results presented today - and published in the journal Science - tackle both questions. First off, the Curiosity team present evidence gleaned from combining the chemicals in the rocks with the geomorphology of the area. This suggests that the body of water, likely a lake, could have lasted for tens of thousands of years and that it was probably part of a groundwater network that could have lasted for millions of years, even after the lake dried out.

"The organisms that could have lived in the lake could just as well have lived in the sediment and down in the groundwater," Grotzinger says. "It goes beyond just a lake, it's a system." The longer the habitable environment lasted, Grotzinger adds, the better the chances that detectable numbers of microbes were preserved in the rock record.

In order for those microbial fossils to be discovered today, they would also need to have withstood the constant bombardment of charged cosmic rays on the Martian surface. Far more cosmic radiation reaches the surface of Mars than Earth because its atmosphere is so thin, but no one knew how long the rocks on the surface of Mars had been exposed to this harrassment. "The rocks that get exposed on the surface of Mars can be exposed for billions of years, cooking away, getting irradiated," Grotzinger says.

Cooked microbes?

On Earth, you can calculate when rocks formed and when they were last modified by comparing the ratios of various elements to the versions they turn into through radioactive decay, or other processes. For each element or isotope this decay happens at a particular rate, so knowing the ratio yields the rock's age.

But these measurements typically require complex equipment and had never been attempted on another planet. Until now, the best we could do is count craters on the surface: the older a surface, the more impact craters it will have. "There's a lot of controversy about those ages," says Ken Farley, who is also at Caltech and spoke at AGU alongside Grotzinger.

It wasn't until after the rover was built and ready to launch that Farley realised that its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument - designed for a range of tasks such as sniffing the rocks for the presence of organic molecules - could be hacked to take measurements of radioisotope ratios.

After Curiosity had launched, he and his team remotely reprogrammed SAM's mass spectrometer, which separates different elements by their atomic mass, to increase its sensitivity to the point where it could age rocks. "This is the first attempt to even make the measurements for doing any kind of geochronology on another planet," Farley says.

Dramatic achievement

By comparing the amounts of potassium and its daughter product argon-40 in Curiosity's first two rock samples, the team found that the bedrock in Gale crater was laid down 4.2 billion years ago, give or take 350 million years. That's consistent with the figure from the crater counts.

The team also used SAM to measure the relative amounts of three noble gas isotopes: argon-36, neon-21 and helium-3. These are not radioactive but are only produced when cosmic rays strike rock and break up heavier atoms, so their levels give a clue to how long the rock has been exposed to the rays. The measurements revealed that though the rocks are billions of years old, they had only been exposed at the surface for about 80 million years.

The team thinks the rocks were exposed by wind eroding away small cliffs called scarps. Next they want to Curiosity to age rocks in a region that they believe to be even more windswept – and therefore even more recently exposed to cosmic radiation. The rover should reach that region at the end of January.

"To think that we're talking about erosion rates and exposure ages on Mars is really a game-changer," says Sam Bowring of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is not on the Curiosity team. "This really is a dramatic achievement."
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 19, 2014, 12:34:36 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0546-br2.jpg)

Quote

02.18.2014
 Curiosity's Traverse Map Through Sol 546


This map shows the route driven by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity through the 546 Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (February 18, 2014).

Numbering of the dots along the line indicate the sol number of each drive. North is up. The scale bar is 500 meters (1640.42 feet). From Sol 545 to Sol 546, Curiosity had driven a straight line distance of about 3.97 feet (1.21 meters).

The base image from the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment Camera (HiRISE) in NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
 
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona


Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 28, 2014, 08:34:55 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1614

Quote
03.24.2014
 
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
 
NASA Mars Rover's Next Stop Has Sandstone Variations

Differential Erosion at Work on Martian Sandstones

Quote
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia17959_Sol553-Mcam-WB-br.jpg)

Sandstone layers with varying resistance to erosion are evident in this Martian scene recorded by the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Feb. 25, 2004, about one-quarter mile (about 400 meters) from a planned waypoint called "the Kimberley."

Variations in the stuff that cements grains together in sandstone have shaped the landscape surrounding NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and could be a study topic at the mission's next science waypoint.

On a journey with many months yet to go toward prime destinations on the lower slope of Mount Sharp, Curiosity is approaching a site called "the Kimberley." Scientists on the team picked this location last year as a likely place to pause for investigation. Its informal name comes from a northwestern Australia region known as the Kimberley. The Martian site's geological appeal, based on images taken from orbit, is that four types of terrain with different rock textures intersect there.
 
"The orbital images didn't tell us what those rocks are, but now that Curiosity is getting closer, we're seeing a preview," said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The contrasting textures and durabilities of sandstones in this area are fascinating. While superficially similar, the rocks likely formed and evolved quite differently from each other."
 
The rocks that the Curiosity mission has studied most intensively so far are finer-grain mudstone, rather than sandstone. The rover found evidence for an ancient lakebed environment favorable for microbial life when it analyzed sample powder drilled from mudstone last year in an area called "Yellowknife Bay."
 
The rover team is eager to inspect sandstone at the planned waypoint, now just 282 feet (86 meters) south of the rover. The pause for investigations at this site might include time for collecting rock-sample material with the rover's drill, for delivery to the laboratory instruments inside the vehicle.
 
Material filling the space between grains of sand in sandstone is called cement, whatever its composition. Characteristics of the cement can vary greatly, depending on the environmental history that affected the rock. Sandstones with some clay-mineral cements are quite soft. Tap them with a hammer and they crumble. Sandstones with quartz cement can be very hard. Hit them with a hammer and they ring.
 
"A major issue for us now is to understand why some rocks resist erosion more than other rocks, epecially when they are so close to each other and are both likely to be sandstones," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. He is the principal investigator for the Mast Camera and the Mars Descent Camera on Curiosity.
 Malin said that variations in cement material of sandstones could provide clues to different types of wet environmental conditions in the area's history.
 
As in the southwestern United States, understanding why some sandstones are harder than others could help explain the major shapes of the landscape where Curiosity is working inside Gale Crater on Mars. Erosion-resistant sandstone forms a capping layer of mesas and buttes. It could even hold hints about why Gale Crater has a large layered mountain, Mount Sharp, at its center.
 
Erosion-resistant capping layers that Curiosity has sometimes driven across during the rover's traverse since leaving Yellowknife Bay have also presented an engineering challenge for the mission. Some rocks within those layers have sharp points that have punched holes in the rover's aluminum wheels. One of the strategies the rover team has used to reduce the pace of wheel damage is choosing routes that avoid crossing the hard caprock, where feasible.
 
"The wheel damage rate appears to have leveled off, thanks to a combination of route selection and careful driving," said JPL's Richard Rainen, mechanical engineering team leader for Curiosity. "We're optimistic that we're doing OK now, though we know there will be challenging terrain to cross in the future."
 
The pace at which new holes have appeared in the wheels during recent drives is less than one-tenth what it was a few months ago. Activities with a test rover at JPL this month show that wheels with much more extensive damage than has been sustained by any of Curiosity's six wheels can still perform well. The holes in Curiosity's wheels are all in the thin aluminum skin between much thicker treads. These tests on Earth are using wheels so damaged that many treads are broken, but they still provide traction.
 
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
 
For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.
 
2014-090
 
Guy Webster 818-354-6278
 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
 guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 28, 2014, 08:38:05 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0574-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosiy_Location_Sol581-fi.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 25, 2014, 01:55:22 PM
Showing some wear and tear...  look closely...  8)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00606/mcam/0606ML0025550030301440E01_DXXX-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00606/mcam/0606ML0025550020301439E01_DXXX-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00606/mcam/0606ML0025550000301437E01_DXXX-br.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 07, 2014, 02:42:00 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia18090_Nav-SOL621-mars-msl-Windjana-Navcam-Curiosity-Drill-Hole-br2.jpg)

Quote
05.06.2014
 
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
 
NASA's Curiosity Rover Drills Sandstone Slab on Mars
 

Portions of rock powder collected by the hammering drill on NASA's Curiosity Mars from a slab of Martian sandstone will be delivered to the rover's internal instruments.

 Rover team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received confirmation early today (Tuesday) of Curiosity's third successful acquisition of a drilled rock sample, following the drilling Monday evening (PDT). The fresh hole in the rock target "Windjana," visible in images from the rover, is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter and about 2.6 inches (6.5 centimeters) deep.
 
The full-depth hole for sample collection is close to a shallower test hole drilled last week in the same rock, which gave researchers a preview of the interior material as tailings around the hole.
 
"The drill tailings from this rock are darker-toned and less red than we saw at the two previous drill sites," said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, Tempe, deputy principal investigator for Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam). "This suggests that the detailed chemical and mineral analysis that will be coming from Curiosity's other instruments could reveal different materials than we've seen before. We can't wait to find out!"
 
The mission's two previous rock-drilling sites, at mudstone targets in the Yellowknife Bay area, yielded evidence last year of an ancient lakebed environment with key chemical elements and a chemical energy source that long ago provided conditions favorable for microbial life. The rover's current location is at a waypoint called "The Kimberley," about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) southwest of Yellowknife Bay, and along the route toward the mission's long-term destination on lower slopes of Mount Sharp.
 
Sample material from Windjana will be sieved, then delivered in coming days to onboard laboratories for determining the mineral and chemical composition: the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM). The analysis of the sample may continue as the rover drives on from The Kimberley toward Mount Sharp. One motive for the team's selection of Windjana for drilling is to analyze the cementing material that holds together sand-size grains in this sandstone.
 
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
 
For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl/ and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity/.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 07, 2014, 02:45:00 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0609_MarsRed-br.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Sol_609_loc_1200x900m_b-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: spuwho on May 07, 2014, 08:10:34 PM
Don't get me wrong, I love the Curiosity thing and all, but naming every rock, pebble or boulder after something is kind of reaching the limit.

Actually I am kind of stunned being a government operation that haven't used anything more original like "Area 51" or "Hill 109"

Looking at the pix of the worn tires tells me that while in a lower G, Curiosity is very heavy.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 08, 2014, 06:36:05 AM
Don't get me wrong, I love the Curiosity thing and all, but naming every rock, pebble or boulder after something is kind of reaching the limit.

Actually I am kind of stunned being a government operation that haven't used anything more original like "Area 51" or "Hill 109"

Looking at the pix of the worn tires tells me that while in a lower G, Curiosity is very heavy.



Here you go bro...

http://cosmos4u.blogspot.com/2012/08/extra-why-there-is-no-mount-sharp-on.html

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Friday, August 3, 2012

EXTRA: Why there is no "Mount Sharp" on Mars (and why there can't be one)


There is one thing that everyone agrees on regarding the landing spot the Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" is aiming for: it's inside the big impact crater Gale, named after an Australian amateur astronomer - but what is the 5-km-high mound in the middle of the crater called that the Mars rover is supposed to explore in the coming years? Until this spring it didn't have a name at all, but that changed in May when the International Astronomical Union's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature gave it the name "Aeolis Mons", in accordance with the established international rules for naming features on planets (which are also easily available on Wikipedia). For Mars these clearly state that features which are neither albedo features nor impact craters nor valleys are to get their names from "a nearby named albedo feature on Schiaparelli or Antoniadi maps". With Gale crater lying in the Aeolis quadrangle - the region named already by Schiaparelli after a part of Asia Minor - there was no choice.
 In the run-up to Curiosity's arrival, however, the MSL team had begun using the term "Mount Sharp" for this mound around March: a decision by "the mission's international Project Science Group" which was in stark conflict with the established naming rules for Martian features explained above, of course. There is no doubt that Robert P. Sharp deserved to be honored on Mars - alas you can only name big craters for a deceased Mars researcher. And the IAU this May also did exactly that, giving the name "Robert Sharp" to a 152 km wide crater, albeit not exactly an obvious one. Case closed? Not to the MSL management which - dare I say stubbornly? - continues to use the term "Mount Sharp" to this day, in press releases, during press conferences and even in a scientific paper - while independent Mars scientists use "Aeolis Mons", of course. And as this story and this tweet document, the MSL management has no intention to adhere to the Martian naming rules and plans to continue to use the "Mount Sharp" term, occasionally qualified as 'informal', while ignoring the mound's official name.

 So what does the the IAU body responsible for naming features on Mars say? The current chair of the Mars Task Group happens to be the well-known U.S. planetary scientist Brad Smith (who was the Voyager Imaging Team leader and among the first to image the Beta Pic dust disk), who gave the following statement to this blog two hours ago: "It has become pretty much routine for science teams working with Mars landers and rovers to apply informal names to very small (<100 m features observed by their instruments. As a policy, IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) applies official names to features smaller than 100 m only very rarely, and only when such features are considered to be of special scientific interest. It is unusual for a feature as large as Aeolis Mons to be given an informal name, but this has happened occasionally throughout the history of Mars exploration by spacecraft. As a matter of convenience, informal names are often used during discussions within the science teams. Unfortunately, they may also come up when scientists communicate directly with the media.

 "In the past, most of these informal names eventually faded away, but this is the age of the Internet and such names can become permanent even within the professional astrogeological community. I completely agree with your concern over the confusion that such names create, but I must point out that the WGPSN has no control whatsoever over the use of informal names by the various science teams. However, it is also important to note that these unofficial names are never listed in the official IAU database, and they do not appear on the official maps published by the USGS." It may be worth noting that on Wikipedia "Mount Sharp" redirects to "Aeolis Mons" (though incorrectly calling "Mount Sharp" a "former" name of the mound when it fact it was a faulty proposal that couldn't fly), while even ESA ignores the correct name. A third feature named by the IAU in May was Aeolis Palus, by the way: the flat area inside Gale where MSL will touch down and for which NASA hasn't even come up with an 'informal name' ...

 So much for the bare facts - but why all the fuzz over a mound on Mars, one may ask? To this blogger it's all about history and not throwing out established solar system naming procedures on a whim and without even knowing what rules exist and why. Current Mars research is "standing on shoulders" reaching back into the 19th century and even further, and over the centuries what was found on the world most similar to ours has been named in clear ways that resonated with the public at large. There are options to honor great planetary scientists on Mars, and Robert Sharp has his crater now. But that doesn't even have to be a end of it: Long ago NASA named the Viking 1 lander on Mars the Mutch Memorial Station after a key team member had died in a tragic accident; the respective plaque is on display at the Nat'l Air & Space Museum, with the intent to carry it to the actual lander one day. Now is that a clever idea to honor someone great, or what? And no international rules had to be broken ...
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 20, 2014, 10:57:26 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia18091-Curiosity-Laser-Sharpshooting-Mars-br.jpg)
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05.15.2014
 Nighttime Image of Laser Sharpshooting on Mars


NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument on its robotic arm to illuminate and record this nighttime view of the sandstone rock target "Windjana." The rover had previously drilled a hole to collect sample material from the interior of the rock and then zapped a series of target points inside the hole with the laser of the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument. The hole is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter.

The precision pointing of the laser that is mounted atop the rover's remote-sensing mast is evident in the column of scars within the hole. That instrument provides information about the target's composition by analysis of the sparks of plasma generated by the energy of the laser beam striking the target. Additional ChemCam laser scars are visible at upper right, on the surface of the rock.


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Portions of powdered rock collected by drilling into a sandstone target last week have been delivered to laboratory instruments inside NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, and the rover will soon drive on toward its long-term destination on a mountain slope.
 Other instruments on the rover have inspected the rock's interior exposed in the hole and in drill cuttings heaped around the hole. The target rock, "Windjana," is a sandstone slab within a science waypoint area called "The Kimberley."
 
The camera and spectrometer at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm examined the texture and composition of the cuttings. The instrument that fires a laser from atop the rover's mast zapped a series of points inside the hole with sharpshooter accuracy.
 
The rover team has decided not to drill any other rock target at this waypoint. In coming days, Curiosity will resume driving toward Mount Sharp, the layered mountain at the middle of Mars' Gale Crater. The rover is carrying with it some of the powdered sample material from Windjana that can be delivered for additional internal laboratory analysis during pauses in the drive.
 
The mission's two previous rock-drilling sites, at mudstone targets, yielded evidence last year of an ancient lakebed environment with key chemical elements and a chemical energy source that long ago provided conditions favorable for microbial life.
 
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
 
For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/. You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 26, 2014, 02:51:06 PM
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06.23.2014
 
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
 
NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Marks First Martian Year with Mission Successes

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover will complete a Martian year -- 687 Earth days -- on June 24, having accomplished the mission's main goal of determining whether Mars once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.
 One of Curiosity's first major findings after landing on the Red Planet in August 2012 was an ancient riverbed at its landing site. Nearby, at an area known as Yellowknife Bay, the mission met its main goal of determining whether the Martian Gale Crater ever was habitable for simple life forms. The answer, a historic "yes," came from two mudstone slabs that the rover sampled with its drill. Analysis of these samples revealed the site was once a lakebed with mild water, the essential elemental ingredients for life, and a type of chemical energy source used by some microbes on Earth. If Mars had living organisms, this would have been a good home for them.
 
Other important findings during the first Martian year include:
 
-- Assessing natural radiation levels both during the flight to Mars and on the Martian surface provides guidance for designing the protection needed for human missions to Mars.
 
-- Measurements of heavy-versus-light variants of elements in the Martian atmosphere indicate that much of Mars' early atmosphere disappeared by processes favoring loss of lighter atoms, such as from the top of the atmosphere. Other measurements found that the atmosphere holds very little, if any, methane, a gas that can be produced biologically.
 
-- The first determinations of the age of a rock on Mars and how long a rock has been exposed to harmful radiation provide prospects for learning when water flowed and for assessing degradation rates of organic compounds in rocks and soils.

Curiosity paused in driving this spring to drill and collect a sample from a sandstone site called Windjana. The rover currently is carrying some of the rock-powder sample collected at the site for follow-up analysis.
 "Windjana has more magnetite than previous samples we've analyzed," said David Blake, principal investigator for Curiosity's Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. "A key question is whether this magnetite is a component of the original basalt or resulted from later processes, such as would happen in water-soaked basaltic sediments. The answer is important to our understanding of habitability and the nature of the early-Mars environment."
 
Preliminary indications are that the rock contains a more diverse mix of clay minerals than was found in the mission's only previously drilled rocks, the mudstone targets at Yellowknife Bay. Windjana also contains an unexpectedly high amount of the mineral orthoclase, a potassium-rich feldspar that is one of the most abundant minerals in Earth's crust that had never before been definitively detected on Mars.
 
This finding implies that some rocks on the Gale Crater rim, from which the Windjana sandstones are thought to have been derived, may have experienced complex geological processing, such as multiple episodes of melting.
 
"It's too early for conclusions, but we expect the results to help us connect what we learned at Yellowknife Bay to what we'll learn at Mount Sharp," said John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "Windjana is still within an area where a river flowed. We see signs of a complex history of interaction between water and rock."
 
Curiosity departed Windjana in mid-May and is advancing westward. It has covered about nine-tenths of a mile (1.5 kilometers) in 23 driving days and brought the mission's odometer tally up to 4.9 miles (7.9 kilometers).
 
Since wheel damage prompted a slow-down in driving late in 2013, the mission team has adjusted routes and driving methods to reduce the rate of damage.
 
For example, the mission team revised the planned route to future destinations on the lower slope of an area called Mount Sharp, where scientists expect geological layering will yield answers about ancient environments. Before Curiosity landed, scientists anticipated that the rover would need to reach Mount Sharp to meet the goal of determining whether the ancient environment was favorable for life. They found an answer much closer to the landing site. The findings so far have raised the bar for the work ahead. At Mount Sharp, the mission team will seek evidence not only of habitability, but also of how environments evolved and what conditions favored preservation of clues to whether life existed there.
 
The entry gate to the mountain is a gap in a band of dunes edging the mountain's northern flank that is approximately 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers) ahead of the rover's current location. The new path will take Curiosity across sandy patches as well as rockier ground. Terrain mapping with use of imaging from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter enables the charting of safer, though longer, routes.
 The team expects it will need to continually adapt to the threats posed by the terrain to the rover's wheels but does not expect this will be a determining factor in the length of Curiosity's operational life.
 
"We are getting in some long drives using what we have learned," said Jim Erickson, Curiosity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "When you're exploring another planet, you expect surprises. The sharp, embedded rocks were a bad surprise. Yellowknife Bay was a good surprise."
 
JPL manages NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover.
 
For more information about Curiosity, visit:
 http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
 
You can follow the mission on Facebook at:
 http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity
 
and on Twitter at:
 http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 26, 2014, 02:52:42 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA18392_Sol663map-large-br2.jpg)

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Curiosity Rover's Traverse, First 663 Sols on Mars
 


This map shows in red the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the "Bradbury Landing" location where it touched down in August 2012 (blue star at upper right) through the 663rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (June 18, 2014). The white line shows the planned route ahead to reach "Murray Buttes" (at white star), the chosen access point to destinations on Mount Sharp.

The rover will complete a mission goal of working for a full Martian year on Sol 669 (June 24, 2014). A Martian year is 687 Earth days.

Gridlines indicate quadrants charted before the rover's landing for purposes of geological mapping of the landing region within Mars' Gale Crater. The Sol 663 location is within the Hanover quadrant. Next on the rover's route is the Shoshone quadrant.

The curved line cutting through the northern portion of the Shoshone quadrant is the edge of the mission's target landing ellipse -- the area within which engineers calculated the spacecraft would land. For a wider view that includes the entire ellipse, see PIA15687 .

Curiosity departed a waypoint called "The Kimberley" on Sol 630 (May 15, 2014) and reached the Sol 663 (June 18, 2014) location by driving more than three-fourths of a mile (1.2 kilometers) in five weeks.

A major destination for the mission remains geological layering exposed on the lower slope of Mount Sharp, with "Murray Buttes" chosen as the entry point because of a gap there in a band of dark-toned dune fields edging the base of the mountain. The white line indicates a planned route to Murray Buttes chosen in spring 2014 as the safest path for the rover's wheels. Embedded, sharp rocks on the route driven between the "Cooperstown" and "Kimberley" waypoints marked on the map caused the pace of wear and tear on the wheels to accelerate unexpectedly in late 2013. The white-line route avoids some stretches of similar terrain on a more northerly route previously planned for getting to Murray Buttes. The base image for this map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is up. The scale bar at lower right represents one kilometer (0.62 mile).

At Yellowknife Bay, the Mars Science Laboratory Project that built and operates Curiosity achieved its main science objective of determining whether Mars ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. Rock-powder samples drilled from two mudstone rocks there and analyzed onboard yielded evidence for an ancient lakebed with mild water, the chemical elements needed for life and a mineral source of energy used by some Earth microbes.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
 
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/USGS

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 16, 2014, 03:11:47 PM
07.16.2014
NASA Rover's Images Show Laser Flash on Martian Rock

Flashes appear on a baseball-size Martian rock in a series of images taken Saturday, July 12 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover. The flashes occurred while the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument fired multiple laser shots to investigate the rock's composition.
 The images, strung together as a video, are available online at:
 http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/videos/index.cfm?v=208
 
ChemCam's laser has zapped more than 600 rock and soil targets on Mars since Curiosity landed in the planet's Gale Crater in August 2012.
 
"This is so exciting! The ChemCam laser has fired more than 150,000 times on Mars, but this is the first time we see the plasma plume that is created," said ChemCam Deputy Principal Investigator Sylvestre Maurice, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology, of France's National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse, France. "Each time the laser hits a target, the plasma light is caught and analyzed by ChemCam's spectrometers. What the new images add is confirmation that the size and shape of the spark are what we anticipated under Martian conditions."
 
Preliminary analysis of the ChemCam spectra from this target rock, appropriately named "Nova," indicates a composition rich in silicon, aluminum and sodium, beneath a dust layer poor in those elements. This is typical of rocks that Curiosity is encountering on its way toward Mount Sharp.

First Imaging of Laser-Induced Spark on Mars

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used the camera on its arm on July 12, 2014, to catch the first images of sparks produced by the rover's laser being shot at a rock on Mars. The left image is from before the laser zapped this rock, called "Nova." The spark is at the center of the below image.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA18401-MAIN_MAHLI-Nova-pair-ci.jpg)

MAHLI Deputy Principal Investigator Aileen Yingst of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, said, "One of the reasons we took these images is that they allow the ChemCam folks to compare the plume to those they imaged on Earth. Also, MAHLI has captured images of other activities of Curiosity, for documentation purposes, and this was an opportunity to document the laser in action."
 Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, developed, built and operates MAHLI. 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 France's National Center for Scientific Research.
 
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
 
For more information about Curiosity, visit these sites:
 http://www.nasa.gov/msl
 http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/




(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA18388_ChemCam-Nova-ci.jpg)

Curiosity's ChemCam Examines Mars Rock Target 'Nova'

A Martian target rock called "Nova," shown here, displayed an increasing concentration of aluminum as a series of laser shots from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover penetrated through dust on the rock's surface.




http://www.youtube.com/v/r0cauXpMniw
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 16, 2014, 03:14:20 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/pia18387-MSL-ChemCam-Lebanon-br2.jpg)

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07.15.2014
 
Curiosity Finds Iron Meteorite on Mars
 


This rock encountered by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is an iron meteorite called "Lebanon," similar in shape and luster to iron meteorites found on Mars by the previous generation of rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Lebanon is about 2 yards or 2 meters wide (left to right, from this angle). The smaller piece in the foreground is called "Lebanon B."

This view combines a series of high-resolution circular images taken by the Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) of Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument with color and context from rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam). The component images were taken during the 640th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (May 25, 2014).

The imaging shows angular shaped cavities on the surface of the rock. One possible explanation is that they resulted from preferential erosion along crystalline boundaries within the metal of the rock. Another possibility is that these cavities once contained olivine crystals, which can be found in a rare type of stony-iron meteorites called pallasites, thought to have been formed near the core-mantle boundary within an asteroid.

Iron meteorites are not rare among meteorites found on Earth, but they are less common than stony meteorites. On Mars, iron meteorites dominate the small number of meteorites that have been found. Part of the explanation could come from the resistance of iron meteorites to erosion processes on Mars.

ChemCam is one of 10 instruments in Curiosity's science payload. 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 . The rover's MastCam was built by and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego.
 

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 16, 2014, 03:17:37 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/PIA18396_ccam-mcam_winnipesaukee-br2.jpg)

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06.25.2014
 
Martian Rock and Dust Filling Studied with Laser and Camera
 


Scientists used the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover in June 2014 to examine a Martian rock "shell" about one inch (two to three centimeters) across, embedded in fine-grained bedrock and with a dust-filled hollow interior. This graphic combines an image of the target, called "Winnipesaukee," with spectrographic results from using ChemCam's laser on a row of points including the rock, the matrix around it and the material filling it.

The image merges a high-resolution, black-and-white image from ChemCam's remote micro-imager and a color image form the telephoto-lens camera of Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam). The ChemCam laser and camera atop of Curiosity's remote sensing mast were about 9 feet, 10 inches (3 meter) from Winnipesaukee when the instrument examined Winnipesaukee on the 654th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (June 8, 2014). Similar-appearing features have been seen previously in the mission, but this time ChemCam was able to provide chemical analysis of the structure. The instrument fired 30 laser shots at each of 10 locations indicated by black, red and green circles on the image. Three distinct types of materials were analyzed: the bedrock on each side of the structure, the "shell" material itself and the dust inside the void space. The colors of the lines on the graph below the image correspond to the colors of the circles marking the laser-shot locations.

Analysis of spectra from the bedrock (black circles) identified high abundances of oxides of silicon, aluminum and sodium, typical of a feldspathic composition. The material forming the "shell" (red circles) has a more basaltic or mafic composition, with higher iron and magnesium content. The dust (green circles) is almost certainly airborne material that accumulated in the void space. This dust contains a relatively high hydrogen (water) signature compared to other Martian materials, which is generally characteristic of the ubiquitous dust that forms a thin mantle on much of the surface.

Scientists are considering multiple hypotheses for how this hollow feature formed. Formation as a bubble or carapace of rock that was embedded in the surrounding sediment cannot be ruled out. One alternative considered more likely is that transport of fluids through the bedrock could produce pipe-like structures with a wall consisting of bedrock that either has reacted with the fluids or has been coated with other material. Another is that the feature formed due to cracks penetrating the bedrock, then a mineral cement filling the cracks, then wind erosion removing material from the center.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 16, 2014, 03:20:25 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0688-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 05, 2014, 08:26:47 AM
Quote
08.01.2014
 
Sandy Martian Valleys in Curiosity's Near Future
 


The main map here shows the assortment of landforms near the location of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover as the rover's second anniversary of landing on Mars nears. The gold traverse line entering from upper right ends at Curiosity's position as of the 705th Martian day, or sol, of the mission on Mars (July 31, 2014). The inset map shows the mission's entire traverse from the landing on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC) to Sol 705, and the remaining distance to long-term science destinations near Murray Buttes, at the base of Mount Sharp. The label "Aug. 5, 2013" indicates where Curiosity was one year after landing.

Curiosity spent much of July 2014 crossing an upland area called "Zabriskie Plateau," where embedded, sharp rocks presented hazards for the rover's wheels. The traverse line enters the main map at the rover's location as of Sol 692 (July 17, 2014). A near-term science destination is the "Pahrump Hills" feature near the lower left corner. Scientists anticipate that outcrop rock there may provide a preview of a geological unit that is part of the base of Mount Sharp, rather than floor of Gale Crater. Between the Sol 705 location and Pahrump Hills, the rover's anticipated route dips into sandy-floored valleys.

Scale bars are 50 meters (164 feet) on the main map and 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) on the inset map. The base images for the map are from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. For broader-context views of the area that Curiosity is crossing within Gale Crater, see http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16064 and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/pia15687.

Before the first anniversary of the landing, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates Curiosity, achieved its main science objective of determining whether Mars ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. Rock-powder samples drilled from two mudstone rocks at Yellowknife Bay and analyzed onboard yielded evidence for an ancient lakebed with mild water, the chemical elements needed for life and a mineral source of energy used by some Earth microbes.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mars-Curiosity-Traverse-Map-Sol-705-PIA18408-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on August 05, 2014, 08:51:44 AM
Thanks for keeping this thread rolling BT!!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Charles Hunter on August 05, 2014, 07:31:52 PM
Hey!  Its' about to enter Hidden Valley - think it will find some Ranch Dressing?
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 07, 2014, 08:53:45 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/g7wX-feyWac

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 21, 2014, 09:25:31 AM
Click on the link to see interactive photos that vividly show the wear and tear of two years on Mars...

http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/20/6046609/its-hard-out-there-for-an-interplanetary-robot
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 15, 2014, 10:08:50 AM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26203-curiosity-reaching-science-peak-after-years-of-driving.html#.VBbxuNrD-1s

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Curiosity reaching science peak after years of driving
13:59 12 September 2014 by Lisa Grossman

The Mars rover Curiosity has finally reached the base of Mount Sharp, the Kilimanjaro-sized mountain it has been driving toward for much of the past two years.

"We have finally arrived at the far frontier we have sought for so long," said project scientist John Grotzinger at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in a press teleconference on 11 September. "This is where the core of the science mission really begins."

The rover touched down on the Red Planet in August 2012 in a region called Gale Crater, which was selected largely because of the 5-kilometre-high mountain at its centre. Mount Sharp (also known as Aeolis Mons) contains clays and sulphate minerals that don't form in dry conditions, suggesting that its layers of sediment were laid down in an ancient lake that filled the crater billions of years ago. That would make it a good site for the rover's primary mission: seeking signs that Mars may once have been hospitable to life.

But the first thing the rover did after landing was drive in the other direction. The science team was following hints that another region, called Yellowknife Bay, might have promising chemistry. "We hit the jackpot there," Grotzinger says. The region hosted rocky outcrops that were laid down by a flowing river, making it the first habitable environment discovered on Mars.
 
The team then turned the rover's wheels back to Mount Sharp, and it has been driving essentially ever since, with a few drilling stops along the way. So far Curiosity has covered more than 8 kilometres – and has seen some serious wear and tear on its wheels.

Now, the team says, the rover has finally arrived at the base of Mount Sharp. To spare the wheels, they will modify the planned route through the Pahrump Hills, – a landscape of buttes and scarps – and expect to begin drilling the mountain's layers within a week.

A rock called Bonanza King, which Curiosity tried to drill in late August, has already given them a preview of what they might find. The rock was too unstable to complete the drilling, but clearing the red dust off its surface revealed the same greenish-grey rock that proved fruitful at Yellowknife Bay. Compared with other Martian rocks studied, it also contained a lot of silica, which forms in water and is often associated with preservation of organic matter on Earth.

"We're excited about it because it does go in the right direction for us," Grotzinger says. "It means we're on to something new and we're optimistic that we are going to be able to talk about a science story in the next few months that involves water."

The long trek to Mount Sharp may have prompted some harsh words from a NASA review committee last week, which questioned whether the rover has been doing enough science to justify its $2.5 billion price tag. But Grotzinger says the team intends to carry on with the current plan, using the drill judiciously to test hypotheses, not just to see what's there.

"The principal recommendation of the panel is that we drive less and drill more," Grotzinger says. "I think that the recommendations of the review and what we want to do as a science team are going to align. We've now arrived at Mount Sharp, and we are going to do a lot more drilling."
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 16, 2014, 09:45:37 AM
This image, taken with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, shows the transition between the "Murray Formation," in which layers are poorly expressed and difficult to trace from orbit, and the hematite ridge, which is made up of continuous layers that can be traced laterally for hundreds of meters. Orbital data shows that this change in bedding style between the Murray formation and the hematite ridge is also accompanied by a major change in layer composition. NASA's Curiosity rover will be exploring this formation.


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/NASA-MSL-MRO-Curiosity-Rover--HIRISE-Traverse-Map-Pahrump-Hills-pia18475-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 26, 2014, 10:07:10 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mars-MSL-curiosity-rover-location-map-pahrump-hills-pia18607-fi.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosity_Location_Sol0753-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0751-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 13, 2014, 10:40:00 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosity_Location_Sol803-fi.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosity_Location_Sol803-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00806/mhli/0806MH0004410010300628C00_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00807/opgs/edr/ncam/NRB_469141083EDR_F0441432NCAM00254M_-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00803/mcam/0803ML0035100020400860E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 19, 2014, 09:48:09 AM
Quote
11.18.2014
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Second Time Through, Mars Rover Examines Chosen Rocks

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has returned to the bottom of a three-story-slope to conduct close-up examinations of targets identified by an initial scouting climb.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has completed a reconnaissance "walkabout" of the first outcrop it reached at the base of the mission's destination mountain and has begun a second pass examining selected rocks in the outcrop in more detail.

Exposed layers on the lower portion of Mount Sharp are expected to hold evidence about dramatic changes in the environmental evolution of Mars. That was a major reason NASA chose this area of Mars for this mission. The lowermost of these slices of time ascending the mountain includes a pale outcrop called "Pahrump Hills." It bears layers of diverse textures that the mission has been studying since Curiosity acquired a drilled sample from the outcrop in September.

In its first pass up this outcrop, Curiosity drove about 360 feet (110 meters), and scouted sites ranging about 30 feet (9 meters) in elevation. It evaluated potential study targets from a distance with mast-mounted cameras and a laser-firing spectrometer.

"We see a diversity of textures in this outcrop -- some parts finely layered and fine-grained, others more blocky with erosion-resistant ledges," said Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Overlaid on that structure are compositional variations. Some of those variations were detected with our spectrometer. Others show themselves as apparent differences in cementation or as mineral veins. There's a lot to study here."

During a second pass up the outrcrop, the mission is using a close-up camera and spectrometer on the rover's arm to examine selected targets in more detail. The second-pass findings will feed into decisions about whether to drill into some target rocks during a third pass, to collect sample material for onboard laboratory analysis.

"The variations we've seen so far tell us that the environment was changing over time, both as the sediments were laid down and also after they hardened into bedrock," Vasavada said. "We have selected targets that we think give us the best chance of answering questions about how the sediments were deposited -- in standing water? flowing water? sand blowing in the wind? -- and about the composition during deposition and later changes."

The first target in the second pass is called "Pelona," a fine-grained, finely layered rock close to the September drilling target at the base of Pahrump Hills outcrop. The second is a more erosion-resistant ledge called "Pink Cliffs."

Before examining Pelona, researchers used Curiosity's wheels as a tool to expose a cross section of a nearby windblown ripple of dust and sand. One motive for this experiment was to learn why some ripples that Curiosity drove into earlier this year were more difficult to cross than anticipated.

While using the rover to investigate targets in Pahrump Hills, the rover team is also developing a work-around for possible loss of use of a device used for focusing the telescope on Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, the laser-firing spectrometer.

Diagnostic data from ChemCam suggest weakening of the instrument's smaller laser. This is a continuous wave laser used for focusing the telescope before the more powerful laser is fired. The main laser induces a spark on the target it hits; light from the spark is received though the telescope and analyzed with spectrometers to identify chemical elements in the target. If the smaller laser has become too weak to continue using, the ChemCam team plans to test an alternative method: firing a few shots from the main laser while focusing the telescope, before performing the analysis. This would take advantage of more than 2,000 autofocus sequences ChemCam has completed on Mars, providing calibration points for the new procedure.

Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012, but before beginning the drive toward Mount Sharp, the rover spent much of the mission's first year productively studying an area much closer to the landing site, but in the opposite direction. The mission accomplished its science goals in that Yellowknife Bay area. Analysis of drilled rocks there disclosed an ancient lakebed environment that, more than three billion years ago, offered ingredients and a chemical energy gradient favorable for microbes, if any existed there.

Curiosity spent its second year driving more than 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Yellowknife Bay to the base of Mount Sharp, with pauses at a few science waypoints.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 19, 2014, 09:56:22 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mars-Curiosity-Rover-Martian-Bedrock-Mt-Sharp-labeled-pia18881-br2.jpg)
Fine-Grained, Finely Layered Rock at Base of Martian Mount Sharp

This patch of Martian bedrock, about 2 feet (70 centimeters) across, is finely layered rock with some pea-size inclusions. It lies near the lowest point of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop, which forms part of the basal layer of Mount Sharp. Curiosity's Mastcam acquired this view on Nov. 9, 2014.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mars-Curiosity-Rover-Pink-Cliffs-Rock-Wind-Erosion-Labeled-pia18880-br2.jpg)
Erosion Resistance at 'Pink Cliffs' at Base of Martian Mount Sharp

This small ridge, about 3 feet long, appears to resist wind erosion more than the flatter plates around it. Such differences are among the traits NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is examining at selected rock targets at the base of Mount Sharp. Curiosity's Mastcam acquired this view on Oct. 7, 2014

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/Mars-Curiosity-Rover-Lazer-Shots-Wheel-Tracks-labeled-pia18882-br2.jpg)
Ripple's Interior Exposed by Rover Wheel Track (Labeled)

A wheel track cuts through a windblown ripple of dusty sand in this Nov. 7, 2014, image from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity rover. The view spans about four feet across. This experiment was planned for yielding a view of the inside of the ripple for assessment of particle sizes and composition.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 28, 2014, 09:47:53 AM
(http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA19039_modest.jpg)

Quote
This view shows the path and some key places in a survey of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover in autumn of 2014. The outcrop is at the base of Mount Sharp within Gale Crater.

The mission's in-place investigation of the layered mountain began at the low edge of the Pahrump Hills outcrop, at the target "Confidence Hills." Curiosity collected a drilled sample of rock powder at that target in September 2014 and delivered portions of the powder into analytical instruments inside the rover. Then the mission began a "walkabout" of the outcrop, similar to the way field geologists on Earth walk across an outcrop to choose the best places on it to examine in detail. The dashed gold line indicates the path the rover drove during the walkabout. Names are shown for a few of the features visited and observed by the rover. Red dots indicate stops at the end of a day's drive. White dots indicate locations of stops made during the drives to collect observations of the Pahrump Hills outcrop. The mission completed the walkabout at the site labeled "Whale Rock," and the team is now examining the observations acquired during the walkabout to decide where to return for more detailed analysis.

This view of the outcrop and other portions of Mount Sharp beyond is a mosaic of images taken by the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam). A larger version of the mosaic is at PIA18608
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 09, 2014, 09:23:09 AM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26675-curiosity-rover-finds-ancient-lake-in-martian-crater.html

Quote
Curiosity rover finds ancient lake in Martian crater
21:05 08 December 2014 by Lisa Grossman

Gale Crater on Mars was once a large lake that could have stuck around long enough for life to get started. New observations from the Curiosity rover, which has been driving around the now-dry crater floor since August 2012, show evidence of multiple cycles of water flowing into a large, shallow lake that could have lasted tens of millions of years.

Since shortly after it landed, Curiosity has been driving toward Mount Sharp, the 5-kilometre-high mountain at the crater's centre. It reached the mountain's foothills in September, and the team is busy drilling and analysing the rocks there in pursuit of the rover's primary mission: finding sings that Mars was once hospitable to life.

The view from the road looked optimistic. On the way to Mount Sharp, Curiosity found evidence for flowing rivers and fresh water where simple microbes could have made themselves at home.

But two major questions remained: was that water there long enough to support the emergence of life? And how did Mount Sharp form in the first place?

(http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn26675/dn26675-5_2560.jpg)
(http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn26675/dn26675-6_946.jpg)

Ancient basin
In a news conference today, the rover team presented a possible answer to both questions: Gale Crater was filled up with a lake that dried out and reappeared several times in the distant past, laying down the sediments that make up Mount Sharp in bursts of hundreds of thousands to millions of years.

In its drive towards the mountain, Curiosity first encountered conglomerate rocks full of pebbles that were probably deposited by rivers. But as it continued south and uphill, the landscape changed to sandstones that were all tilted in the same direction: towards the mountain.

"This presents a certain paradox," says project scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "If Mount Sharp had been there and water had been flowing off Mount Sharp, it would be flowing downhill to the north. But the rocks that are exposed show the water flowing to the south."

The resolution of the paradox is that Mount Sharp was not there when the water started flowing. Instead, water flowed from the crater rim toward the interior, filling up an ancient lake.

"On Earth, one of the key places where we find these inclined beds are at the mouths of river channels where they feed into lakes," said Curiosity team member Sanjeev Gupta of Imperial College London. The landscape looks like small deltas stacked on top of each other, suggesting they formed over several cycles of varying climate.

Mountain of sediment
At the base of Mount Sharp, sandstone layers become much thinner and flatter, as if they were laid down more slowly and without strong currents swirling them around.

"We think that's what we're seeing here: lake floor deposits," Grotzinger says. Cycles of wet and dry periods could have filled up the crater with sediment that was later eroded, leaving the mountain that remains today.

(http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn26675/dn26675-2_300.jpg)
(http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn26675/dn26675-4_946.jpg)

This is something that the team suspected even before landing – "that's why the landing site was selected," Grotzinger says. But seeing it from the ground makes them much more confident. "There was no way to have recognized this from orbit," he says.

But the ancient lake raises a new mystery: how did Mars, which now locks all of its water up in polar ice caps, have enough water in its atmosphere to keep the lake in Gale Crater from evaporating for long periods of time?

"The climate system must have been loaded with water," says deputy project scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. If Gale Crater was liquid for millions of years, Mars may have needed oceans and a hydrological cycle. If the lake came and went in shorter periods, that could be an indication of climate cycles caused by volcanic activity or crater impacts. "The question is, could temporary climate fluctuations form what we see geologically, or do we need longer term warm wet climate?"

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 09, 2014, 11:42:04 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/oS99yR1cooE

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 16, 2014, 03:25:58 PM
Organic compounds confirmed!   8)

http://www.youtube.com/v/UN0Zj4SIz1A

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 16, 2014, 03:29:13 PM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1767

Quote
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill.
"This temporary increase in methane -- sharply up and then back down -- tells us there must be some relatively localized source," said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. "There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock."

Researchers used Curiosity's onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere. During two of those months, in late 2013 and early 2014, four measurements averaged seven parts per billion. Before and after that, readings averaged only one-tenth that level.

Curiosity also detected different Martian organic chemicals in powder drilled from a rock dubbed Cumberland, the first definitive detection of organics in surface materials of Mars. These Martian organics could either have formed on Mars or been delivered to Mars by meteorites.

Organic molecules, which contain carbon and usually hydrogen, are chemical building blocks of life, although they can exist without the presence of life. Curiosity's findings from analyzing samples of atmosphere and rock powder do not reveal whether Mars has ever harbored living microbes, but the findings do shed light on a chemically active modern Mars and on favorable conditions for life on ancient Mars.

"We will keep working on the puzzles these findings present," said John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "Can we learn more about the active chemistry causing such fluctuations in the amount of methane in the atmosphere? Can we choose rock targets where identifiable organics have been preserved?"

Researchers worked many months to determine whether any of the organic material detected in the Cumberland sample was truly Martian. Curiosity's SAM lab detected in several samples some organic carbon compounds that were, in fact, transported from Earth inside the rover. However, extensive testing and analysis yielded confidence in the detection of Martian organics.

Identifying which specific Martian organics are in the rock is complicated by the presence of perchlorate minerals in Martian rocks and soils. When heated inside SAM, the perchlorates alter the structures of the organic compounds, so the identities of the Martian organics in the rock remain uncertain.

"This first confirmation of organic carbon in a rock on Mars holds much promise," said Curiosity Participating Scientist Roger Summons of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "Organics are important because they can tell us about the chemical pathways by which they were formed and preserved. In turn, this is informative about Earth-Mars differences and whether or not particular environments represented by Gale Crater sedimentary rocks were more or less favorable for accumulation of organic materials. The challenge now is to find other rocks on Mount Sharp that might have different and more extensive inventories of organic compounds."
Researchers also reported that Curiosity's taste of Martian water, bound into lakebed minerals in the Cumberland rock more than three billion years ago, indicates the planet lost much of its water before that lakebed formed and continued to lose large amounts after.

SAM analyzed hydrogen isotopes from water molecules that had been locked inside a rock sample for billions of years and were freed when SAM heated it, yielding information about the history of Martian water. The ratio of a heavier hydrogen isotope, deuterium, to the most common hydrogen isotope can provide a signature for comparison across different stages of a planet's history.

"It's really interesting that our measurements from Curiosity of gases extracted from ancient rocks can tell us about loss of water from Mars," said Paul Mahaffy, SAM principal investigator of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of a report published online this week by the journal Science

The ratio of deuterium to hydrogen has changed because the lighter hydrogen escapes from the upper atmosphere of Mars much more readily than heavier deuterium. In order to go back in time and see how the deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio in Martian water changed over time, researchers can look at the ratio in water in the current atmosphere and water trapped in rocks at different times in the planet's history.

Martian meteorites found on Earth also provide some information, but this record has gaps. No known Martian meteorites are even close to the same age as the rock studied on Mars, which formed about 3.9 billion to 4.6 billion years ago, according to Curiosity's measurements.

The ratio that Curiosity found in the Cumberland sample is about one-half the ratio in water vapor in today's Martian atmosphere, suggesting much of the planet's water loss occurred since that rock formed. However, the measured ratio is about three times higher than the ratio in the original water supply of Mars, based on the assumption that supply had a ratio similar to that measured in Earth's oceans. This suggests much of Mars' original water was lost before the rock formed.

Curiosity is one element of NASA's ongoing Mars research and preparation for a human mission to Mars in the 2030s. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and JPL manages Curiosity rover science investigations for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The SAM investigation is led by Paul Mahaffy of Goddard. Two SAM instruments key in these discoveries are the Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer, developed at Goddard, and the Tunable Laser Spectrometer, developed at JPL.
The results of the Curiosity rover investigation into methane detection and the Martian organics in an ancient rock were discussed at a news briefing Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union's convention in San Francisco. The methane results are described in a paper published online this week in the journal Science by NASA scientist Chris Webster of JPL, and co-authors.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 16, 2014, 03:37:17 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-curiosity-rover-water-loose-bed-layer-whale-rocks-pia19076-br2.jpg)

Quote
After a successful investigation of the Chinle outcrop, Curiosity is ready to move on to the Whale Rock outcrop.  Today we are planning two sols, and on the first sol we’ll finish up a few last targeted observations at Chinle.  The plan includes a ChemCam passive observation of the target Goldstone (“passive” means that we don’t fire the laser, we just passively collect the spectrum of the target), along with a Mastcam image to document the target.  We’ll also acquire a ChemCam z-stack on the target Cucumongo to test out a new template for ChemCam activities, and to look for any changes in chemistry compared to other observations at Chinle (z-stack means that we’ll acquire data from several different focus positions).  There’s also a Navcam activity to search for dust devils and monitor the atmosphere.

After we complete our morning science observations, Curiosity will attempt a rather difficult drive toward Whale Rock.   Curiosity was last at Whale Rock on Sol 796, and captured this tantalizing image of cross-bedding.  We want to go back to Whale Rock to investigate the small-scale textures and composition of the outcrop using the instruments on the rover’s arm (MAHLI and APXS).  But in order to do that, we need to get close to the rocks, and the terrain looks quite challenging.  One way to work around the difficult approach is to sample a float rock (a block that has broken off from the main outcrop and might be in a more accessible position).  Due to the difficult terrain, it might take us a few drives to get into a good position.

After the drive we’ll acquire Navcam and Mastcam images, which we’ll use to select interesting targets and plan future drives.  On the second sol Curiosity will also acquire a Navcam observation to monitor the atmosphere above Mt. Sharp.  Fingers crossed for a good drive!

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.

Quote
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00837/opgs/edr/ncam/NRB_471806998EDR_F0442414NCAM00262M_.JPG)

The 5-meter drive planned for Sol 837 placed the rover near dubbed "Whale Rock" as intended.

Front Hazcam images show blocks that appear to have fallen from the outcrop and in-place bedrock patches; both can be reached by the arm instruments, so the Sol 840 plan includes MAHLI images from 25 cm standoff distance of the block and bedrock targets "San Andreas," "Tecoya," "Gem Hill" and "San Bernardino."  The arm will also be used to image the wheels and clean out CHIMRA (the sample handling equipment).

I'm SOWG Chair today, and all has gone well so far.  But, as usual, the risk of rover slip must be assessed before arm activities can be planned.  The rover is now tilted over 18 degrees, more than it has been tilted for any arm activities during the mission so far, so slip risk assessment requires more time and effort than it has in the past.  As I write this, we are still "go" for arm activities, and of course I'm hoping that won't change. 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: spuwho on December 16, 2014, 08:58:10 PM
Per BBC:

Methane 'belches' detected on Mars

(http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/79700000/jpg/_79700545_79700544.jpg)


Nasa's Curiosity rover has detected methane on Mars - a gas that could hint at past or present life on the planet.

The robot sees very low-level amounts constantly in the background, but it also has monitored a number of short-lived spikes that are 10 times higher.

Methane on the Red Planet is intriguing because here on Earth, 95% of the gas comes from microbial organisms.

Researchers have hung on to the hope that the molecule's signature at Mars might also indicate a life presence.

The Curiosity team cannot identify the source of its methane, but the leading candidate is underground stores that are periodically disturbed.

Curiosity scientist Sushil Atreya said it was possible that so-called clathrates were involved.

"These are molecular cages of water-ice in which methane gas is trapped. From time to time, these could be destabilised, perhaps by some mechanical or thermal stress, and the methane gas would be released to find its way up through cracks or fissures in the rock to enter the atmosphere," the University of Michigan professor told BBC News.

He was reporting the discovery here at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

The question remains, of course, of how the methane (CH4) got into the clathrate stores in the first place.

It could have come from Martian bugs; it could also have come from a natural process, such as serpentinisation, which sees methane produced when water interacts with certain rock types.

At the moment, it is all speculation. But at least Curiosity has now made the detection.
Enriched samples

It was concerning that for many months the robot could not see a gas that was being observed by orbiting spacecraft at Mars and by telescopes at Earth.

People were beginning to wonder if the other sightings were reliable.

Curiosity is located in a deep bowl on Mars' equator known as Gale Crater.

It has been sucking in Martian air and scanning its components since shortly after landing in August 2012.

For gases that have very low concentrations in the atmosphere, the robot can employ a special technique in which it expels the most abundant molecule - carbon dioxide - before analysing the sample.

This has the effect of enriching and amplifying any residual chemistry.

And in doing this for methane, Curiosity finds that there is a persistent signature of about 0.7 parts per billion by volume (ppbv).

"The background figure suggests there are about 5,000 tonnes of methane in the atmosphere," said Dr Chris Webster, from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who led the investigation.

"You can compare that with Earth where there are about 500 million tonnes. The concentration here at Earth is about 1,800 ppbv."
Life's preference

The spikes in methane that Curiosity saw occurred on four occasions during the course of a two-month period.

They varied between about 7 and 9 parts per billion by volume.

It is likely, the team says, that the gas is being released relatively nearby, either within the crater or just outside.

Curiosity's weather station suggests it is blowing in from the north, from the direction of the crater rim.

One way to investigate whether the methane on Mars has a biological or a geological origin would be to study the types, or isotopes, of carbon atom in the gas.

On Earth, life favours a lighter version of the element (carbon-12), over a heavier one (carbon-13).

A high C-12 to C-13 ratio in ancient Earth rocks has been interpreted as evidence that biological activity existed on our world as much as four billion years ago.

If scientists could find similar evidence on Mars, it would be startling. But, sadly, the volumes of methane detected by Curiosity are simply too small to run this kind of experiment.

"If we had enriched our sample during one of the peaks, we might have had a shot at looking at these isotopes," explained Dr Paul Mahaffy, the lead investigator on Curiosity's Surface Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, which did the measurements.

"I think there is still some hope. If the methane comes back, and we can enrich it, we'll certainly be trying."
Long quest

The other big Curiosity discovery announced here in San Francisco is that the rover has also confirmed the detection of organic (carbon-rich) compounds in the rock samples it has been drilling.

It is the first definitive detection of organics in surface materials at the Red Planet.

The SAM instrument saw evidence for chlorobenzine in the powered rock it pulled up from a mudstone slab dubbed Cumberland.

Chlorobenzine is a carbon ring with five hydrogen atoms and one chlorine atom attached.

The team cannot be sure if the chemical was specifically present in Cumberland or synthesised during the heating of analysis. But even if the latter is the case, the scientists seem confident the molecule would at the very least have been derived from larger carbon structures that were in place.

Once again, scientists are interested in seeing such organics because life as we know it can only exist if it has the capacity to trade in carbon molecules.

If they are not present then neither will there be any biology. However, just as with the methane detection, this does not of itself automatically point to life on Mars, now or in the past, because there are plenty of abiotic processes that will produce complex carbon structures as well.

"It's a big day for us - it's a kind of crowning moment of 10 years of hard work - where we report there is methane in the atmosphere and there are also organic molecules in abundance in the sub-surface," commented Curiosity project scientist Prof John Grotzinger.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 08, 2015, 10:20:35 AM
(http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/images/largesize/PIA19076_hires.jpg)

Quote
Sols 862-863: Goodbye Whale Rock!

Wed, 07 Jan 2015

by Ryan Anderson

It’s time to hit the road again! In the Sol 862-863 plan, we are wrapping things up at “Whale Rock” and then driving about 85 m toward “Pink Cliffs”, where we hope to drill sometime soon. On Sol 862, Mastcam will take a few parting shots of Whale Rock and “Western Cliffs” before we drive away. After driving, we will do our standard post-drive imaging with Navcam and Mastcam to get a good look at our surroundings.

On Sol 863, Mastcam will look at the sun to measure how much dust is in the atmosphere (this measurement is called a “tau” because that’s the symbol used in the equation that shows how much the sun’s light is attenuated). Navcam will watch for clouds above Mt. Sharp, and ChemCam will make a passive sky observation. ChemCam will also make some measurements of the on-board calibration targets.

--Ryan is a planetary scientist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the ChemCam team on MSL.
Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 15, 2015, 01:57:44 PM
Quote
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-curiosity-mahli-sol-809-mojave-pia19077-br2.jpg)

Over the weekend, Curiosity did a short drive to get into position to drill at “Mojave.”  The previously acquired MAHLI images of this target show some really interesting crystals, and we’re excited to use CheMin to figure out what minerals are present.

The main event in today’s two-sol plan is to do a mini-drill at Mojave.  Before we do a full drill deep enough to collect rock powder, we do a mini-drill in preparation.  We’ll also collect a number of MAHLI images before and after the mini-drill to characterize the drilling location.  The plan also includes some DAN observations to characterize the subsurface near this site.  Then we’ll acquire APXS of the mini-drill hole to assess the composition of the freshly exposed material.

On the second sol we will move the arm out of the way to image the hole with Mastcam, and then Curiosity will acquire a self-portrait.  We like to take these “selfies” at each of the drill hole locations to document the site, and it’s also a good way to check up on the state of the rover. 


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(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00867/mhli/0867MH0004240010302170C00_DXXX.jpg)

The "mini-drill" test on the Mojave rock target completed successfully, but MAHLI images taken after the test showed that the rotary-percussive drilling fractured the rock.  This was not expected, so the tactical team had to quickly change the Sol 869-870 plan.  While we were hoping to drill a deeper hole and acquire a sample of the drill cuttings before the upgrade of the software onboard the rover next week, the rock fragments dislodged by the mini-drill activity provided a rare opportunity to examine freshly-broken surfaces.  Field geologists usually carry rock hammers so that they can break rocks and examine the fresh surfaces.  On Mars, the drill has served as MSL's rock hammer!  So the Sol 869 plan includes ChemCam measurements of the fresh chunk of rock and the bottom of the mini-drill hole, followed by MAHLI close-up images of the dislodged rocks, both during the day and at night (illuminated by the LEDs).  On Sol 870, the brush will be used to clean off another potential mini-drill target, dubbed "Funk Valley."  MAHLI images of this new target will be taken before and after the brushing, then the drill will be "preloaded" (pushed down) against Funk Valley and a potential full drill target to determine whether the rock is strong enough to safely drill.  Finally, MAHLI images will be acquired to see the results of the preload tests and the APXS will be placed on the brushed spot for an overnight integration. 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 30, 2015, 08:12:40 AM
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By Lauren Edgar

On Sol 882 Curiosity completed another full drill hole on Mars.  The target was “Mojave2” and it proved to be much more stable than “Mojave” (our previous attempt at doing a mini-drill at Mojave resulted in breaking the rock apart).  This time everything went smoothly and we have a beautiful new drill hole to analyze.

The main activities in today’s plan are ChemCam, Mastcam and MAHLI observations to characterize the drill hole and tailings.  First we’ll acquire several ChemCam LIBS observations of the drill tailings to study their composition.  Then we’ll image the drill hole using all of the Mastcam camera filters.  Overnight, we’ll acquire a number of MAHLI images to characterize the drill hole and tailings.  Looking forward to learning more about the composition of this interesting target!

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00882/opgs/edr/fcam/FLB_475796866EDR_F0450000FHAZ00337M_-br2.jpg)

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Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 09, 2015, 09:56:14 AM
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02.05.2015

NASA's Curiosity Analyzing Sample of Martian Mountain

-- Analysis underway of Curiosity's second drilled rock sample at Mount Sharp
 -- Preliminary results suggest acidic ancient conditions
 -- New drilling technique uses less-forceful hammering on fragile rock

The second bite of a Martian mountain taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover hints at long-ago effects of water that was more acidic than any evidenced in the rover's first taste of Mount Sharp, a layered rock record of ancient Martian environments.

The rover used a new, low-percussion-level drilling technique to collect sample powder last week from a rock target called "Mojave 2."

Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp five months ago after two years of examining other sites inside Gale Crater and driving toward the mountain at the crater's center. The first sample of the mountain's base layer came from a target called "Confidence Hills," drilled in September.

A preliminary check of the minerals in the Mojave 2 sample comes from analyzing it with the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument inside Curiosity. The still-partial analysis shows a significant amount of jarosite, an oxidized mineral containing iron and sulfur that forms in acidic environments.

"Our initial assessment of the newest sample indicates that it has much more jarosite than Confidence Hills," said CheMin Deputy Principal Investigator David Vaniman, of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. The minerals in Confidence Hills indicate less acidic conditions of formation.

Open questions include whether the more acidic water evident at Mojave 2 was part of environmental conditions when sediments building the mountain were first deposited, or fluid that soaked the site later.

Both target sites lie in a outcrop called "Pahrump Hills," an exposure of the Murray formation that is the basal geological unit of Mount Sharp. The Curiosity mission team has already proposed a hypothesis that this mountain, the size of Mount Rainier in Washington, began as sediments deposited in a series of lakes filling and drying.

In the months between Curiosity's drilling of these two targets, the rover team based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, directed the vehicle through an intensive campaign at Pahrump Hills. The one-ton roving laboratory zig-zagged up and down the outcrop's slope, using cameras and spectrometer instruments to study features of interest at increasing levels of detail. One goal was to select which targets, if any, to drill for samples to be delivered into the rover's internal analytical instruments.

The team chose a target called "Mojave," largely due to an abundance of slender features, slightly smaller than rice grains, visible on the rock surface. Researchers sought to determine whether these are salt-mineral crystals, such as those that could result from evaporation of a drying lake, or if they have some other composition. In a preparatory drilling test of the Mojave target, the rock broke. This ruled out sample-collection drilling at that spot, but produced chunks with freshly exposed surfaces to be examined.

Mojave 2, an alternative drilling target selected at the Mojave site, has the same type of crystal-shaped features. The preliminary look at CheMin data from the drilled sample material did not identify a clear candidate mineral for these features. Possibly, minerals that originally formed the crystals may have been replaced by other minerals during later periods of wet environmental conditions.

The drilling to collect Mojave 2 sample material might not have succeeded if the rover team had not recently expanded its options for operating the drill.

"This was our first use of low-percussion drilling on Mars, designed to reduce the energy we impart to the rock," said JPL's John Michael Morookian, the team's surface science and sampling activity lead for the Pahrump Hills campaign. "Curiosity's drill is essentially a hammer and chisel, and this gives us a way not to hammer as hard."

Extensive tests on Earth validated the technique after the team became concerned about fragility of some finely layered rocks near the base of Mount Sharp.

The rover's drill has six percussion-level settings ranging nearly 20-fold in energy, from tapping gently to banging vigorously, all at 30 times per second. The drill monitors how rapidly or slowly it is penetrating the rock and autonomously adjusts its percussion level. At the four targets before Mojave 2 -- including three before Curiosity reached Mount Sharp -- sample-collection drilling began at level four and used an algorithm that tended to remain at that level. The new algorithm starts at level one, then shifts to a higher level only if drilling progress is too slow. The Mojave 2 rock is so soft, the drill reached its full depth of about 2.6 inches (6.5 centimeters) in 10 minutes using just levels one and two of percussion energy.

Curiosity has also delivered Mojave 2 powder to the internal Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments, for chemical analysis. The rover may drive to one or more additional sampling sites at Pahrump Hills before heading higher on Mount Sharp.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 17, 2015, 10:43:57 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/QsHL_kkmPtU


http://youtu.be/QsHL_kkmPtU
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 04, 2015, 11:00:25 AM
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This raw-color view from Curiosity's Mastcam shows the rover's drill just after finishing a drilling operation at "Telegraph Peak" on Feb. 24, 2015. Three days later, a fault-protection action by the rover halted a process of transferring sample powder that was collected during this drilling. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is expected to remain stationary for several days of engineering analysis following an onboard fault-protection action on Feb. 27 that halted a process of transferring sample material between devices on the rover's robotic arm.
Telemetry received from the rover indicated that a transient short circuit occurred and the vehicle followed its programmed response, stopping the arm activity underway at the time of the irregularity in the electric current.

"We are running tests on the vehicle in its present configuration before we move the arm or drive," said Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This gives us the best opportunity to determine where the short is."

A transient short in some systems on the rover would have little effect on rover operations. In others, it could prompt the rover team to restrict use of a mechanism.

When the fault occurred, the rover was conducting an early step in the transfer of rock powder collected by the drill on the arm to laboratory instruments inside the rover. With the drill bit pointed up and the drill's percussion mechanism turned on, the rock powder was descending from collection grooves in the bit assembly into a chamber in the mechanism that sieves and portions the sample powder. The sample powder is from a rock target called "Telegraph Peak." The same transfer process was completed smoothly with samples from five previous drilling targets in 2013 and 2014.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 13, 2015, 09:37:43 AM
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MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY MISSION STATUS REPORT

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used its robotic arm Wednesday, March 11, to sieve and deliver a rock-powder sample to an onboard instrument. The sample was collected last month before the team temporarily suspended rover arm movement pending analysis of a short circuit.

The Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) analytical instrument inside the rover received the sample powder. This sample comes from a rock target called "Telegraph Peak," the third target drilled during about six months of investigating the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop on Mount Sharp. With this delivery completed, the rover team plans to drive Curiosity away from Pahrump Hills in coming days.

"That precious Telegraph Peak sample had been sitting in the arm, so tantalizingly close, for two weeks. We are really excited to get it delivered for analysis," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

The rover experienced a short circuit on Feb. 27 while using percussion action in its drill to shake sample powder from the drill into a sample-processing device on the arm. Subsequent testing at JPL and on Curiosity has identified the likely cause as a transient short in the motor for the drill's percussion action. During several tests on the rover in the past 10 days, the short was reproduced only one time -- on March 5. It lasted less than one one-hundredth of a second and did not stop the motor. Ongoing analysis will help the rover team develop guidelines for best use of the drill at future rock targets.

The rover's path toward higher layers of Mount Sharp will take it first through a valley called "Artist's Drive," heading southwestward from Pahrump Hills. The sample-processing device on the arm is carrying Telegraph Peak sample material at the start of the drive, for later delivery into the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments. The delivery will occur after SAM prepares for receiving the sample.

Curiosity's drill has used a combination of rotary and percussion action to collect samples from six rock targets since the rover landed inside Gale Crater in 2012. The first sampled rock, "John Klein," in the Yellowknife Bay area near the landing site, provided evidence for meeting the mission's primary science goal. Analysis of that sample showed that early Mars offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including the key elemental ingredients for life and a chemical energy source such as used by some microbes on Earth. In the layers of lower Mount Sharp, the mission is pursuing evidence about how early Mars environments evolved from wetter to drier conditions.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/msl-curiosity-artists-drive-traverse-map-sol903-pia19148-br2.jpg)
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Curiosity Heading Away from 'Pahrump Hills'

This area at the base of Mount Sharp on Mars includes a pale outcrop, called "Pahrump Hills," that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover investigated from September 2014 to March 2015, and the "Artist's Drive" route toward higher layers of the mountain. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 17, 2015, 09:51:48 AM
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Sols 928-929 Checking Out Garden City

Mon, 16 Mar 2015

By Lauren Edgar

Over the weekend, Curiosity bumped closer to the target “Garden City” located in “Artist’s Drive.”  “Garden City” is an intriguing target because it contains a lot of really big veins, captured here in this Mastcam image from Sol 926.

Today’s plan is focused on characterizing “Garden City” and getting ready for contact science on Wednesday.  The plan includes ChemCam observations on the targets “Ouray” and “Hoskinnini” to characterize the composition of the light and dark parts of the veins, as well as several Mastcam multispectral observations.  There are also several Navcam and Mastcam activities to monitor atmospheric opacity and search for dust devils.  Furthermore, this plan includes several important SAM activities to prepare for and analyze the previously acquired “Telegraph Peak” sample.

I’ll be the Geology Science Theme Lead on Wednesday so I dialed in to the planning meetings to prepare for what is shaping up to be a very busy day of arm activities!

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these reports are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 24, 2015, 01:03:46 PM
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03.24.2015

Curiosity Rover Finds Biologically Useful Nitrogen on Mars

A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA's Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments.

A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA's Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments. The nitrogen was detected in the form of nitric oxide, and could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating. Nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form that can be used by living organisms. The discovery adds to the evidence that ancient Mars was habitable for life.
Nitrogen is essential for all known forms of life, since it is used in the building blocks of larger molecules like DNA and RNA, which encode the genetic instructions for life, and proteins, which are used to build structures like hair and nails, and to speed up or regulate chemical reactions.

However, on Earth and Mars, atmospheric nitrogen is locked up as nitrogen gas (N2) - two atoms of nitrogen bound together so strongly that they do not react easily with other molecules. The nitrogen atoms have to be separated or "fixed" so they can participate in the chemical reactions needed for life. On Earth, certain organisms are capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and this process is critical for metabolic activity. However, smaller amounts of nitrogen are also fixed by energetic events like lightning strikes.

Nitrate (NO3) - a nitrogen atom bound to three oxygen atoms - is a source of fixed nitrogen. A nitrate molecule can join with various other atoms and molecules; this class of molecules is known as nitrates.

There is no evidence to suggest that the fixed nitrogen molecules found by the team were created by life. The surface of Mars is inhospitable for known forms of life. Instead, the team thinks the nitrates are ancient, and likely came from non-biological processes like meteorite impacts and lightning in Mars' distant past.

Features resembling dry riverbeds and the discovery of minerals that only form in the presence of liquid water suggest that Mars was more hospitable in the remote past. The Curiosity team has found evidence that other ingredients needed for life, such as liquid water and organic matter, were present on Mars at the Curiosity site in Gale Crater billions of years ago.

"Finding a biochemically accessible form of nitrogen is more support for the ancient Martian environment at Gale Crater being habitable," said Jennifer Stern of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Stern is lead author of a paper on this research published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science March 23.

The team found evidence for nitrates in scooped samples of windblown sand and dust at the "Rocknest" site, and in samples drilled from mudstone at the "John Klein" and "Cumberland" drill sites in Yellowknife Bay. Since the Rocknest sample is a combination of dust blown in from distant regions on Mars and more locally sourced materials, the nitrates are likely to be widespread across Mars, according to Stern. The results support the equivalent of up to 1,100 parts per million nitrates in the Martian soil from the drill sites. The team thinks the mudstone at Yellowknife Bay formed from sediment deposited at the bottom of a lake. Previously the rover team described the evidence for an ancient, habitable environment there: fresh water, key chemical elements required by life, such as carbon, and potential energy sources to drive metabolism in simple organisms.

The samples were first heated to release molecules bound to the Martian soil, then portions of the gases released were diverted to the SAM instruments for analysis. Various nitrogen-bearing compounds were identified with two instruments: a mass spectrometer, which uses electric fields to identify molecules by their signature masses, and a gas chromatograph, which separates molecules based on the time they take to travel through a small glass capillary tube -- certain molecules interact with the sides of the tube more readily and thus travel more slowly.

Along with other nitrogen compounds, the instruments detected nitric oxide (NO -- one atom of nitrogen bound to an oxygen atom) in samples from all three sites. Since nitrate is a nitrogen atom bound to three oxygen atoms, the team thinks most of the NO likely came from nitrate which decomposed as the samples were heated for analysis. Certain compounds in the SAM instrument can also release nitrogen as samples are heated; however, the amount of NO found is more than twice what could be produced by SAM in the most extreme and unrealistic scenario, according to Stern. This leads the team to think that nitrates really are present on Mars, and the abundance estimates reported have been adjusted to reflect this potential additional source.

"Scientists have long thought that nitrates would be produced on Mars from the energy released in meteorite impacts, and the amounts we found agree well with estimates from this process," said Stern.

The SAM instrument suite was built at NASA Goddard with significant elements provided by industry, university, and national and international NASA partners. NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a division of Caltech, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The NASA Mars Exploration Program and Goddard Space Flight Center provided support for the development and operation of SAM. SAM-Gas Chromatograph was supported by funds from the French Space Agency (CNES). Data from these SAM experiments are archived in the Planetary Data System.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 30, 2015, 09:55:43 AM
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Changes in Scars From 2012 Mars Landing
 
Spacecraft that land in dusty areas of Mars create dark blast zone patterns where bright dust is blown away by the landing. Monitoring with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows these dark patterns fade over time in a surprising way. Four sequences of images span two-and-a-half years beginning in the week after the August 2012 landing of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover inside Gale Crater.

The first series shows a repeating sequence of seven images of the scar where the Mars Science Laboratory's descent stage hit the ground. The descent stage, or "sky crane," had lowered Curiosity onto the ground and then flown approximately 2,100 feet (650 meters) away and impacted the ground. The fading of the dark blast zone resembles what has been observed at other Mars landing sites, presumably because bright dust is settling on the surface and masking the blast zones. Scientists thought they could model this fading and predict how long it would take for the patterns to disappear entirely. However, the most recent image, taken in February 2015, shows that this blast zone is not fading as quickly as expected, and may even be darkening. This indicates that understanding is still incomplete about processes that move dust around on the Martian surface.

Figure A is a sequence showing the spacecraft's back shell and parachute. Wind causes changes in the shape of the parachute as well as fading of the dark zone visible around the back shell in initial frames.

The Figure B sequence shows where the rover itself landed. Curiosity disappears after the first two of the seven frames because it drove away. Its wheel tracks heading generally east (toward the left) can be seen in subsequent frames, and they also fade over time.

Figure C is a five-frame sequence of the location where the spacecraft's heat shield hit the ground.

The images in these sequences have not been adjusted for differences in viewing angle or lighting conditions. Without such image processing, some features on the ground appear to shift slightly from frame to frame.

The first image in each of the four sequences is from HiRISE observation ESP_028335_1755, taken on Aug. 12, 2012, six days after Curiosity's landing. A different product from this observation, mapping where various hardware hit the ground, is at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/pia16001 . Additional image products from this observation are available at http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_028335_1755 . Subsequent images in these sequences are from HiRISE observations ESP_028401_1755, on Aug. 17, 2015; ESP_030313_1755, on Jan. 13, 2013; ESP_034572_1755, on Dec. 11, 2013; ESP_036128_1755, from April 2014; ESP_037117_1755, from June 27, 2014; and ESP_040269_1755, from February 2015. The two observations in 2014 did not include the heat shield location.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
(http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosity-MRO-Gale-Crater-Mars-HiRISE-Scars-Landing-2012-blast-zone-pia19159-FigA_backshell_anim_v3-br2.gif)
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Changes in Scars: Figure A - Backshell

This sequence of images shows a blast zone where the sky crane from NASA's Curiosity rover mission hit the ground after setting the rover down in August 2012, and how that dark scar's appearance changed over the subsequent 30 months. The images are from HiRISE on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
(http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosity-MRO-Gale-Crater-Mars-HiRISE-Scars-Landing-2012-blast-zone-pia19159-FigB_rover_anim_v3-br2.gif)
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Changes in Scars: Figure B - Curiosity Rover

This sequence of images shows a blast zone where the sky crane from NASA's Curiosity rover mission hit the ground after setting the rover down in August 2012, and how that dark scar's appearance changed over the subsequent 30 months. The images are from HiRISE on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
(http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/images/Curiosity-MRO-Gale-Crater-Mars-HiRISE-Scars-Landing-2012-blast-zone-pia19159-FigC_heatshield_anim_v3-br2.gif)
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Changes in Scars: Figure C - Heat Shield

This sequence of images shows a blast zone where the sky crane from NASA's Curiosity rover mission hit the ground after setting the rover down in August 2012, and how that dark scar's appearance changed over the subsequent 30 months. The images are from HiRISE on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 02, 2015, 09:24:54 AM
Quote
04.01.2015

NASA's Curiosity Eyes Prominent Mineral Veins on Mars

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has climbed uphill from an outcrop it studied for six months and found a site with two-tone mineral veins forming "ice-cream sandwich" ridges.
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-rover-curiosity-mount-sharp-sol929-pia19161-br2.jpg)
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Fast Facts:
-- Exposed mineral veins at "Garden City" tell of a wet environment after lake-bed deposits became rock
-- Drilled sample from "Telegraph Peak" contains cristobalite, a silica mineral

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-rover-curiosity-mount-sharp-mahli-sol935-pia19162-ci.jpg)
This view from the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is a close-up of a two-tone mineral vein at a site called "Garden City" on lower Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Two-tone mineral veins at a site NASA's Curiosity rover has reached by climbing a layered Martian mountain offer clues about multiple episodes of fluid movement. These episodes occurred later than the wet environmental conditions that formed lake-bed deposits the rover examined at the mountain's base.
Curiosity has analyzed rock samples drilled from three targets lower on the mountain in the past seven months. It found a different mineral composition at each, including a silica mineral named cristobalite in the most recent sample. These differences, together with the prominent veins seen in images taken a little farther uphill, illustrate how the layers of Mount Sharp provide a record of different stages in the evolution of the area's ancient environment.

The two-tone veins are at the site called "Garden City." They appear as a network of ridges left standing above the now eroded-away bedrock in which they formed. Individual ridges range up to about 2.5 inches (6 centimeters) high and half that in width, and they bear both bright and dark material.

"Some of them look like ice-cream sandwiches: dark on both edges and white in the middle," said Linda Kah, a Curiosity science-team member at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. "These materials tell us about secondary fluids that were transported through the region after the host rock formed."

Veins such as these form where fluids move through cracked rock and deposit minerals in the fractures, often affecting the chemistry of the rock surrounding the fractures. Curiosity has found bright veins composed of calcium sulfate at several previous locations. The dark material preserved here presents an opportunity to learn more. Kah said, "At least two secondary fluids have left evidence here. We want to understand the chemistry of the different fluids that were here and the sequence of events. How have later fluids affected the host rock?"

Some of the sequence is understood: Mud that formed lake-bed mudstones Curiosity examined near its 2012 landing site and after reaching Mount Sharp must have dried and hardened before the fractures formed. The dark material that lines the fracture walls reflects an earlier episode of fluid flow than the white, calcium-sulfate-rich veins do, although both flows occurred after the cracks formed.

Garden City is about 39 feet (12 meters) higher than the bottom edge of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop of the bedrock forming the basal layer of Mount Sharp, at the center of Mars' Gale Crater. The Curiosity mission spent about six months examining the first 33 feet (10 meters) of elevation at Pahrump Hills, climbing from the lower edge to higher sections three times to vertically profile the rock structures and chemistry, and to select the best targets for drilling.

"We investigated Pahrump Hills the way a field geologist would, looking over the whole outcrop first to choose the best samples to collect, and it paid off," said David Blake of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, principal investigator for the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) analytical laboratory instrument inside the rover.

Analysis is still preliminary, but the three drilled samples from Pahrump Hills have clear differences in mineral ingredients. The first, "Confidence Hills," had the most clay minerals and hematite, both of which commonly form under wet conditions. The second, "Mojave," had the most jarosite, an oxidized mineral containing iron and sulfur that forms in acidic conditions. The third is "Telegraph Peak." Examination of Garden City has not included drilling a sample.

Blake said, "Telegraph Peak has almost no evidence of clay minerals, the hematite is nearly gone and jarosite abundance is down. The big thing about this sample is the huge amount of cristobalite, at about 10 percent or more of the crystalline material." Cristobalite is a mineral form of silica. The sample also contains a small amount of quartz, another form of silica. Among the possibilities are that some process removed other ingredients, leaving an enrichment of silica behind; or that dissolved silica was delivered by fluid transport; or that the cristobalite formed elsewhere and was deposited with the original sediment.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to examine environments that offered favorable conditions for microbial life on ancient Mars, if the planet ever has hosted microbes, and the changes from those environments to drier conditions that have prevailed on Mars for more than three billion years.

After investigations in the Telegraph Peak area, the rover team plans to drive Curiosity through a valley called "Artist's Drive" to reach higher layers. Engineers are meanwhile developing guidelines for best use of the rover's drill, following detection of a transient short circuit last month while using the tool's percussion action to shake rock powder into a sample-processing device. Drilling can use both rotary and percussion actions.

"We expect to use percussion as part of drilling in the future while we monitor whether shorts become more frequent," said Steve Lee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Lee became deputy project manager for the Mars Science Laboratory Project this month. He previously led the project's Guidance, Navigation and Control Team from design through landing.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 17, 2015, 09:03:26 AM
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04.16.2015

NASA's Curiosity Rover Making Tracks and Observations

Fast Facts:
-- Curiosity has passed the mission's 10-kilometer mark as it heads for its next science destination, called "Logan Pass"
-- The rover is approaching a corrugated geological unit that overlies the layers examined by Curiosity

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is continuing science observations while on the move this month. On April 16, the mission passed 10 kilometers (6.214 miles) of total driving since its 2012 landing, including about a fifth of a mile (310 meters) so far this month.
The rover is trekking through a series of shallow valleys between the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop, which it investigated for six months, and the next science destination, "Logan Pass," which is still about 200 yards, or meters, ahead toward the southwest.

"We've not only been making tracks, but also making important observations to characterize rocks we're passing, and some farther to the south at selected viewpoints," said John Grant of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington. Grant is a Curiosity science team member who has been the team's long-term planner in recent days.

A drive of 208 feet (63.5 meters) during the mission's 957th Martian day, early Thursday, took Curiosity past a cumulative 10 kilometers of total Martian ground-distance covered. This is based on mapped distance covered by each drive; by wheel odometery, the rover reached 10 kilometers last week, but the mapped tally is considered a more precise measure of distance covered, excluding wheel slippage.

Curiosity is examining the lower slopes of a layered mountain, Mount Sharp, to investigate how the region's ancient environment evolved from lakes and rivers to much drier conditions. Sites at Pahrump Hills exposed the mountain's basal geological layer, named the Murray formation. Nearby, high-standing buttes are examples of terrain called the Washboard unit, from its corrugated appearance as seen from orbit.

"The trough we’re driving through is bounded by exposures of the Washboard unit, with gaps at some places that allow us to see farther south to higher exposures of it," Grant said. "At Logan Pass, we hope to investigate the relationship between the Murray formation and the Washboard unit, to help us understand the ancient depositional setting and how environmental conditions were changing. The observations we're making now help establish the context for what we'll see there."

"The rover's mobility has been crucial, because that's what allows us to get to the best sites to investigate," Grant said. "The ability to get to different sections of the rock record builds more confidence in your interpretation of each section."

From observations made by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, topographically ridged terrain that has beenategorized as the Washboard unit has been mapped at many locations around Mount Sharp -- on the south flank of the mountain as well as the northern flank Curiosity is climbing -- and on the surrounding plains.

"Understanding the Washboard unit and what processes formed it could put what we've been studying into a wider context," Grant said.

Curiosity spent much of its first 12 months on Mars investigating locations close to its landing site north of Mount Sharp. Findings during that period included evidence for ancient rivers and a lakebed environment that offered conditions favorable for microbial life, if Mars has ever hosted life. After leaving the landing vicinity, Curiosity drove to reach Mount Sharp, with a few extended stops at science waypoints along the route before arriving in September 2014.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-rover-curiosity-msl-traverse-map-10k-drive-Sol957-PIA18390-br2.jpg)
Quote
04.16.2015
 
Curiosity's Position After 10 Kilometers
 
A green star marks the location of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover after a drive on the mission's 957th Martian day, or sol, (April 16, 2015). The map covers an area about 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) wide.

Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012. The drive on Sol 957 brought the mission's total driving distance past the 10-kilometer mark (6.214 miles). The rover is passing through a series of shallow valleys on a path from the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop, which it investigated for six months, toward its next science destination, called "Logan Pass."

The rover's traverse line enters this map at the location Curiosity reached in mid-July 2014.

The base map uses imagery from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/.
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 23, 2015, 09:18:06 AM
Tough environment... below is wheel wear and tear to date...

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00962/mcam/0962ML0042600030403873E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00962/mcam/0962ML0042600020403872E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00962/mcam/0962ML0042590030403868E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00962/mcam/0962ML0042560020403852E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00963/mhli/0963MH0002610010304258E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00963/mhli/0963MH0002640000304260E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00958/mhli/0958MH0002620000304239E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00958/mhli/0958MH0002590000304237E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 30, 2015, 09:11:16 AM
Some stratified rock outcrops...  8)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00969/mcam/0969ML0042830490404019E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00969/mcam/0969MR0042830080502582E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00969/mcam/0969MR0042830230502597E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 11, 2015, 10:51:21 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/MLFwOBnyvio

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 11, 2015, 10:55:52 AM
Quote
05.08.2015

Quick Detour by NASA Mars Rover Checks Ancient Valley

Researchers slightly detoured NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the mission's planned path in recent days for a closer look at a hillside site where an ancient valley had been carved out and refilled.
The rover made observations and measurements there to address questions about how the channel formed and filled. Then it resumed driving up Mount Sharp, where the mission is studying the rock layers. The layers reveal chapters in how environmental conditions and the potential to support microbial life changed in Mars' early history.

Two new panoramas of stitched-together telephoto images from Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) present the increasingly hilly region the rover has been investigating, and more distant portions of Mount Sharp. These large images are online, with pan and zoom controls for exploring them, at:

mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/deepzoom/PIA19397
mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/deepzoom/PIA19398

Curiosity's Path to Some Spring 2015 Study Sites

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-curiosity-rover-path-mount-sharp-map-19399-br2.jpg)


Curiosity has been exploring on Mars since 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp. Curiosity spent several months examining the lowest levels of the mountain's basal geological unit, the Murray formation, at an outcrop called "Pahrump Hills." Then it set off toward a site called "Logan Pass," where the team anticipates a first chance to place the contact-science instruments at the end of the rover's arm onto a darker geological unit overlying or within the Murray formation.
"In pictures we took on the way from Pahrump Hills toward Logan Pass, some of the geologists on the team noticed a feature that looked like what's called an 'incised valley fill,' which is where a valley has been cut into bedrock and then filled in with other sediment," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

This unusual geometry of the rock layers was noted on the side of a rise called "Mount Shields," which sits northwest of the planned route to Logan Pass. The team chose in late April to divert the rover to the base of Mount Shields.

"We wanted to investigate what cut into the mudstone bedrock, and what process filled it back in," Vasavada said. "The fill material looks like sand. Was the sand transported by wind or by water? What were the relative times for when the mudstone formed, when the valley was cut into it, when the cut was filled in?

"It's exciting to see this on Mars for the first time," he continued. "Features like this on Earth capture evidence of change. What in the environment changed to go from depositing one kind of sediment, to eroding it away in a valley, to then depositing a different kind of sediment? It's a fascinating puzzle that Mars has left for us."

Scientists are examining the evidence collected at Mount Shields as the rover approaches its next study area, at Logan Pass.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 12, 2015, 10:44:54 AM
(http://mars.nasa.gov/images/mars-sunset-msl-curiosity-martian-sky-pia19400.gif)

Quote
05.08.2015
 
Sunset in Mars' Gale Crater

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover recorded this sequence of views of the sun setting at the close of the mission's 956th Martian day, or sol (April 15, 2015), from the rover's location in Gale Crater.

The four images shown in sequence here were taken over a span of 6 minutes, 51 seconds.

This was the first sunset observed in color by Curiosity. The images come from the left-eye camera of the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam). The color has been calibrated and white-balanced to remove camera artifacts. Mastcam sees color very similarly to what human eyes see, although it is actually a little less sensitive to blue than people are.

Dust in the Martian atmosphere has fine particles that permit blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than longer-wavelength colors. That causes the blue colors in the mixed light coming from the sun to stay closer to sun's part of the sky, compared to the wider scattering of yellow and red colors. The effect is most pronounced near sunset, when light from the sun passes through a longer path in the atmosphere than it does at mid-day.

Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates the rover's Mastcam. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover. For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 26, 2015, 09:04:33 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol0991-br2.jpg)

Quote
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00992/opgs/edr/ncam/NLB_485560450EDR_F0481194NCAM00272M_.JPG)

By Lauren Edgar

On Sol 992 Curiosity took a short drive into Marias Pass to get a better look at the terrain ahead.  The 6 m drive on Sol 992 brought our total odometry to 10,562 m.  It also put Curiosity in a great position for targeted science over the long holiday weekend.

The 4 sol plan includes some large Mastcam mosaics to characterize the terrain and the contact between the Stimson and Pahrump units.  The plan also includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations on the targets “Hoodoo,” “Pinehaven,” “Red Sleep,” and “Red Horn” to assess the composition of the bright outcrop and veins.  On Sol 995, Curiosity will bump closer to the outcrop, to prepare for possible contact science next week.  Curiosity will also acquire several Mastcam observations of Deimos and stars to assess the nighttime atmospheric opacity.  Sol 996 will be a “REMS-a-palooza” devoted entirely to extended environmental monitoring.

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00995/opgs/edr/ncam/NLB_485828380EDR_F0481530NCAM07753M_-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00995/opgs/edr/ncam/NLB_485828261EDR_F0481530NCAM00274M_-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 28, 2015, 08:07:48 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00995/mcam/0995ML0044030040404927E01_DXXX.jpg)

Quote
Sol 998: Contact Science at Marias Pass

Wed, 27 May 2015

By Lauren Edgar

A short bump on Sol 997 put Curiosity in a great position to investigate a few different rock units in Marias Pass, using the instruments on the rover’s arm.  The 2.5 m drive brings our total odometry to 10,599 m.  With the upcoming solar conjunction (Mars will be on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth, so we can’t communicate with the rover for most of the month of June), Curiosity is now parked for the next few weeks.   But we are parked in front of a beautiful outcrop that shows the contact between the underlying Pahrump unit and the overlying Stimson unit.

The goal of today’s plan is to characterize the Stimson unit.  First, Curiosity will acquire ChemCam and Mastcam on part of the Stimson unit called “Ronan” (the large block in the top part of this Mastcam image) as well as a coarse-grained block named “Big_Arm.”  Then we’ll acquire several MAHLI images on “Ronan.”  Next, Curiosity will brush “Ronan” to remove the dust, and will then take MAHLI images of the brushed area to get a better look at the grain size and textures.  And finally, we’ll place APXS on the target to investigate the bulk chemistry of “Ronan.”  Tomorrow’s plan will likely include similar observations on the Pahrump unit.

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of MSL science team.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 03, 2015, 09:44:09 AM
Mars has passed behind the sun and will not emerge until the end of June.  The rovers Curiosity and Opportunity will have very minimal activity and communications will be sparse...

Quote
Sols 1003-1004: Last tactical planning before solar conjunction

Mon, 01 Jun 2015

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/00997/opgs/edr/ncam/NLB_486005036EDR_S0481570NCAM00275M_.JPG)

Today is the last day of MSL tactical operations until after solar conjunction, so this will probably be the last MSL update for a few weeks.  Ryan Anderson and I are both on shift as payload uplink lead today, but because the instruments we're representing (ChemCam and MAHLI/MARDI, respectively) are already standing down in preparation for conjunction, our efforts have been focused on planning for the resumption of activities after conjunction.  We don't know precisely when tactical planning will resume, as the ability to communicate with spacecraft as Mars passes behind the Sun depends on variable solar activity.  The expectation is that the next tactical planning day will be June 25th (Sol 1026), but the schedule probably won't firm up until that week. 

The Sol 1003 plan starts with Mastcam images of the Sun to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere, followed by another set of Mastcam/Navcam photometry images to extend the experiment started on Sol 1000.  Then Mastcam will take images of various targets near the rover, to be compared with images of the same targets taken after conjunction to look for changes caused by winds.  Later in the afternoon, the photometry and change-detection imaging will be repeated, and Mastcam will acquire a stereo mosaic of "Apikuni Mountain."   Then the focus motors of both Mastcams will be moved to their "home" positions for conjunction and Navcam will search for clouds above MSL.  The Sol 1004 plan includes only the usual RAD and REMS observations, a preview of the plan for the next few weeks.  During the break from tactical operations, the science team will have more time to analyze the wealth of data the rover has returned over the past 1000 sols.

by Ken Herkenhoff
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: spuwho on June 03, 2015, 03:51:12 PM
I have been a proponent of a laser based comm grid that rotates above and below the ecliptic that works similar to a internet router.

This way, no matter what spatial body goes into solar occlusion we will still be able to communicate.

There was a project to build something similar for the Constellation Project but it was only for Terran/Martian links.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 29, 2015, 07:48:49 AM
Quote
Mars has passed through solar conjunction, and reliable communication with the spacecraft at Mars is possible again.  As planning started this morning, we were still waiting for more data to be relayed by the orbiters to confirm that MSL is ready to resume science planning, but proceeded with tactical planning so that we would be ready when the data arrived.  The Sol 1027 plan starts with Mastcam observations of several targets that were imaged just before solar conjunction, to look for changes caused by winds or maybe Marsquakes.  Mastcam will then look at the sun to measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere, Navcam will search for dust devils, and ChemCam/Mastcam will observe nearby targets "Piegan" and "Wallace."  On Sol 1028, the arm will be used to take MAHLI images of the rocks and soil in front of the rover from various vantage points, to measure changes in their reflectance with observation geometry ("photometry").  After dusk, APXS and MAHLI will measure 3 spots on a rock called "Big Arm" that was imaged by MAHLI during the day before solar conjunction.  The nighttime images, using MAHLI's LEDs for illumination, should nicely complement the daytime images of the rock.  Finishing off the weekend plan, on Sol 1029 ChemCam will acquire some calibration data and Mastcam will take a stereo mosaic of the outcrops to the east of the rover. 

As SOWG Chair today, I was a bit worried about planning so many activities on the first day of tactical planning in a few weeks, but the team hit the ground running and did a great job.  Early this afternoon, we got word from the downlink team that the data acquired during conjunction show that the rover is in good health, and that we were therefore "go" for planning.  MSL is back in action!

by Ken Herkenhoff

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/01003/opgs/edr/ncam/NLB_486532425EDR_F0481570NCAM00323M_.JPG)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 02, 2015, 09:44:08 AM
Quote
07.01.2015

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Studies Rock-Layer Contact Zone

As Mars emerges from passing nearly behind the sun, NASA has resumed full operations of the Curiosity rover, which has reached a site where at least two rock types meet.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/07/mars-curiosity-rover-msl-color-adjusted-label-pia19676-br2.jpg)

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is examining a valley where at least two types of bedrock meet, for clues about changes in ancient environmental conditions recorded by the rock.
In addition to two rock types for which this site was chosen, the rover has found a sandstone with grains of differing shapes and color.

Curiosity's international team has resumed full operations of the car-size mobile laboratory after a period of limited activity during most of June. The operations moratorium for Curiosity and other spacecraft at Mars happens about every 26 months, when Mars passes nearly behind the sun from Earth's perspective, and the sun interferes with radio communication between the two planets.

At the rover's current location near "Marias Pass" on Mount Sharp, Curiosity has found a zone where different types of bedrock neighbor each other. One is pale mudstone, like bedrock the mission examined previously at "Pahump Hills." Another is darker, finely bedded sandstone above the Pahrump-like mudstone. The rover team calls this sandstone the Stimson unit.

On Mars as on Earth, each layer of a sedimentary rock tells a story about the environment in which it was formed and modified. Contacts between adjacent layers hold particular interest as sites where changes in environmental conditions may be studied. Some contacts show smooth transitions; others are abrupt.

Curiosity climbed an incline of up to 21 degrees in late May to reach Marias Pass, guided by images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showing Pahrump-like and Stimson outcrops close together.

"This site has exactly what we were looking for, and perhaps something extra," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Right at the contact between the Pahrump-like mudstone and the Stimson sandstone, there appears to be a thin band of coarser-grained rock that's different from either of them."

The in-between material is a sandstone that includes some larger grains, of mixed shapes and colors, compared to the overlying dark sandstone.
"The roundedness of some of the grains suggests they traveled long distances, but others are angular, perhaps meaning that they came from close by," Vasavada said. "Some grains are dark, others much lighter, which indicates that their composition varies. The grains are more diverse than in other sandstone we've examined with Curiosity."
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/07/mars-curiosity-rover-msl-mahli-arm-pia19677-ci.jpg)
The science team has identified rock targets for further close-up inspection of the textures and composition of the mudstone and sandstone exposed near Marias Pass. The team ancipates keeping Curiosity busy at this site for several weeks before driving higher on Mount Sharp.

Curiosity has been exploring on Mars since 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 02, 2015, 09:53:16 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01031/mhli/1031MH0005060040400080C00_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01031/mhli/1031MH0004540000400105R00_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01030/mcam/1030ML0045010040305530E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01030/mcam/1030ML0045000020305533E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/01030/opgs/edr/fcam/FLB_488925153EDR_F0481570FHAZ00323M_-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 09, 2015, 09:22:28 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/images/mars-panoramic-mt-sharp-rover-curiosity-labeled-pia19662.jpg)
This view southeastward from Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) shows terrain judged difficult for traversing between the rover and an outcrop in the middle distance where a pale rock unit meets a darker rock unit above it. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Quote
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover climbed a hill Thursday to approach an alternative site for investigating a geological boundary, after a comparable site proved hard to reach.

The drive of about 72 feet (22 meters) up slopes as steep as 21 degrees brought Curiosity close to a target area where two distinctive types of bedrock meet. The rover science team wants to examine an outcrop that contains the contact between the pale rock unit the mission analyzed lower on Mount Sharp and a darker, bedded rock unit that the mission has not yet examined up close.

Two weeks ago, Curiosity was headed for a comparable geological contact farther south. Foiled by slippery slopes on the way there, the team rerouted the vehicle and chose a westward path. The mission's strategic planning keeps multiple route options open to deal with such situations.

"Mars can be very deceptive," said Chris Roumeliotis, Curiosity's lead rover driver at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "We knew that polygonal sand ripples have caused Curiosity a lot of drive slip in the past, but there appeared to be terrain with rockier, more consolidated characteristics directly adjacent to these ripples. So we drove around the sand ripples onto what we expected to be firmer terrain that would give Curiosity better traction. Unfortunately, this terrain turned out to be unconsolidated material too, which definitely surprised us and Curiosity."

In three out of four drives between May 7 and May 13, Curiosity experienced wheel slippage in excess of the limit set for the drive, and it stopped mid-drive for safety. The rover's onboard software determines the amount of slippage occurring by comparing the wheel-rotation tally to actual drive distance calculated from analysis of images taken during the drive.

The rover was heading generally southward from near the base of a feature called "Jocko Butte" toward a geological contact in the eastern part of the "Logan Pass" area.

Routes to this contact site would have required driving across steeper slopes than Curiosity has yet experienced on Mars, and the rover had already experienced some sideways slipping on one slope in this area.

"We decided to go back to Jocko Butte, and, in parallel, work with the scientists to identify alternate routes," Roumeliotis said.

The team spent a few days analyzing images from the rover and from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to choose the best route for short-term and long-term objectives.

"One factor the science team considers is how much time to spend reaching a particular target, when there are many others ahead," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL. "We used observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify an alternative site for investigating the geological contact in the Logan Pass area. It's a little mind-blowing to drive up a hill to a site we saw only in satellite images and then find it in front of us."

Curiosity has been exploring on Mars since 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at:

http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity
http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 17, 2015, 09:00:33 AM
Time for a wheel survey and evaluation.  NASA has already altered routes based on the conditions of the wheels.  As you can see they have been taking a beating... I hope they can last long enough to climb the mountain...

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01046/mhli/1046MH0002610010400288E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01046/mhli/1046MH0002620000400287E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01046/mhli/1046MH0002640000400286E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01046/mhli/1046MH0002640000400278E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

The complete wheel survey can be found here...

http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/?s=1046&camera=MAHLI
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 04, 2015, 08:37:43 AM
Three year anniversary... 8)

https://www.youtube.com/v/n4Dv7hJIv6Y

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 04, 2015, 08:46:10 AM
Top Science Discoveries to date:  http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/science/results/

Poster:  http://mars.nasa.gov/files/mep/CuriosityPoster.pdf
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 20, 2015, 09:10:48 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/08/mars-curiosity-rover-msl-horizon-sky-self-portrait-PIA19808-br2.jpg)
Looking Up at Mars Rover Curiosity in 'Buckskin' Selfie

This low-angle self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin." The MAHLI camera on Curiosity's robotic arm took multiple images on Aug. 5, 2015, that were stitched together into this selfie. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is driving toward the southwest after departing a region where for several weeks it investigated a geological contact zone and rocks that are unexpectedly high in silica and hydrogen content. The hydrogen indicates water bound to minerals in the ground.
In this "Marias Pass" region, Curiosity successfully used its drill to sample a rock target called "Buckskin" and then used the camera on its robotic arm for multiple images to be stitched into a self-portrait at the drilling site. The new Curiosity selfie from a dramatically low angle is online at:

http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7438

The rover finished activities in Marias Pass on Aug. 12 and headed onward up Mount Sharp, the layered mountain it reached in September 2014. In drives on Aug. 12, 13, 14 and 18, it progressed 433 feet (132 meters), bringing Curiosity's total odometry since its August 2012 landing to 6.9 miles (11.1 kilometers).
Curiosity is carrying with it some of the sample powder drilled from Buckskin. The rover's internal laboratories are analyzing the material. The mission's science team members seek to understand why this area bears rocks with significantly higher levels of silica and hydrogen than other areas the rover has traversed.

Silica, monitored with Curiosity's laser-firing Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, is a rock-forming chemical containing silicon and oxygen, commonly found on Earth as quartz. Hydrogen in the ground beneath the rover is monitored by the rover's Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument. It has been detected at low levels everywhere Curiosity has driven and is interpreted as the hydrogen in water molecules or hydroxyl ions bound within or absorbed onto minerals in the rocks and soil.

"The ground about 1 meter beneath the rover in this area holds three or four times as much water as the ground anywhere else Curiosity has driven during its three years on Mars," said DAN Principal Investigator Igor Mitrofanov of Space Research Institute, Moscow. DAN first detected the unexpectedly high level of hydrogen using its passive mode. Later, the rover drove back over the area using DAN in active mode, in which the instrument shoots neutrons into the ground and detects those that bounce off the subsurface, but preferentially interacting with hydrogen. The measurements confirmed hydrated material covered by a thin layer of drier material.

Curiosity initially noted the area with high silica and hydrogen on May 21 while climbing to a site where two types of sedimentary bedrock lie in contact with each other. Such contact zones can hold clues about ancient changes in environment, from conditions that produced the older rock type to conditions that produced the younger one. This contact is the lure that led the rover team to choose Marias Pass as a route toward higher layers of Mount Sharp. Pale mudstone, like bedrock the mission examined for the first several months after reaching Mount Sharp at an area called "Pahrump Hills," forms one side of the contact. The overlying side is darker, finely bedded sandstone.

Curiosity examined the Marias Pass contact zone closely with instruments mounted on its mast and arm. The unusual levels of silica and hydrogen in rocks passed during the climb prompted a choice to backtrack to examine that area and acquire a drilled sample.

Buckskin was the first rock drilled by Curiosity since an electrical circuit in the drill's percussion mechanism exhibited a small, transient short circuit in February during transfer of sample powder from the third target drilled in the Pahrump Hills area.

"We were pleased to see no repeat of the short circuit during the Buckskin drilling and sample transfer," said Steven Lee, deputy project manager for Curiosity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "It could come back, but we have made changes in fault protection to continue safely drilling even in the presence of small shorts. We also improved drill percuss circuit telemetry to gain more diagnostic information from any future occurrences."
Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp after two years of fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine layers of lower Mount Sharp for ancient habitable environments and evidence about how early Mars environments evolved from wetter to drier conditions.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 01, 2015, 09:38:56 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01085/mcam/1085ML0047660020206932E01_DXXX.jpg)

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Planning is no longer restricted, but we had to start at 6:00 PDT this morning to give the operations team enough time to uplink commands by the time the rover expects them.  Driving to work before sunrise reminded me of the sometimes odd times we had to wake up during the first 90 sols of the mission, when the entire operations team was on "Mars time."

 The team is very interested in the outcrop in front of the rover, so I had a very busy day as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today, even though we are planning just one sol.  We planned in advance for MAHLI nighttime imaging of CheMin's inlet and MAHLI's calibration target (using white and UV LEDs), so those activities were ready to go this morning.  But we had to prioritize and plan the details of observations of other contact science targets.  Because the Sol 1089 MAHLI images and APXS placement were not perfectly centered on the Buckskin dump pile, our top priority is to repeat those observations with updated positioning.  We planned MAHLI images of a target dubbed "Devon," which will also be measured by APXS.  Many of the targets of interest are difficult to reach with the arm, so the rover planners requested relatively low-resolution MAHLI images of them to support planning of more contact science on Sol 1092.  These targets were named "Pentagon," "Lebo," "Ivanhoe," and "Ledger," with Ledger being imaged in stereo by Mastcam because it is a candidate for brushing with the DRT.  Finally, the APXS will be placed on the dump pile for overnight integration.

We had to put more thought than usual into prioritizing various data for downlink, as we expect only 38 Mbits of data before Sol 1092 planning begins tomorrow morning.  This situation forced us to compress some of the MAHLI images more than usual, and to create new command sequences.  But if all goes well, we will receive enough data tomorrow morning to plan contact science on multiple targets.

by Ken Herkenhoff

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 14, 2015, 09:05:01 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01100/mcam/1100ML0048710060500490E01_DXXX.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01100/mcam/1100ML0048710380500522E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01100/mcam/1100ML0048710300500514E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 24, 2015, 01:11:46 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/09/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1110-br2.jpg)

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: spuwho on September 24, 2015, 01:18:33 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01100/mcam/1100ML0048710060500490E01_DXXX.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01100/mcam/1100ML0048710380500522E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01100/mcam/1100ML0048710300500514E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

To be honest, this part of Mars looks like Nevada between Winnemucca and Reno along I-80.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 24, 2015, 02:41:39 PM
Now that you mention it... there is a spot I lovingly refer to as hell... in Oman that looks like this too.  8)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 05, 2015, 09:16:01 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/10/mars-msl-gale-crater-mt-sharp-soil-layers-pia19912-br2.jpg)
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Mount Sharp Comes In Sharply
 
This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA's Curiosity rover. In the foreground -- about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover -- is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals. The changing mineralogy in these layers of Mount Sharp suggests a changing environment in early Mars, though all involve exposure to water billions of years ago. The Curiosity team hopes to be able to explore these diverse areas in the months and years ahead. Further back in the image are striking, light-toned cliffs in rock that may have formed in drier times and now is heavily eroded by winds.
 

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1860

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10.02.2015

Curiosity's Drill Hole and Location are Picture Perfect

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover drilled its eighth hole on Mars, and its fifth since reaching Mount Sharp one year ago. The drilling of the hole 2.6-inches (65 millimeters) deep in a rock the team labeled "Big Sky" is part of a multi-day, multi-step sequence that will result in the analysis of the Martian rock's ingredients in the rover's two onboard laboratories – the Chemistry and Mineralogy X-Ray diffractometer (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

"With Big Sky, we found the ordinary sandstone rock we were looking for," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada. "It also happens to be relatively near sandstone that looks as though it has been altered by fluids -- likely groundwater with other dissolved chemicals. We are hoping to drill that rock next, compare the results, and understand what changes have taken place."
The analyses of the Big Sky rock-powder samples by CheMin and SAM will occur over the next week. Meanwhile, the team will be turning the rover's attention and its wheels towards the second rock, where the sample analysis process will begin anew.

Curiosity is currently on the lower slopes of Mount Sharp in a region covered in sandstone called the Stimson Unit. Two weeks ago, still in the same general vicinity, Curiosity took a pair of long-range images toward higher regions of the mountain. In the foreground -- about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover -- is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals. The changing mineralogy in these layers of Mount Sharp suggests a changing environment in early Mars, though all involve exposure to water billions of years ago. The Curiosity team hopes to be able to explore these diverse areas in the months and years ahead. Farther back in the image are striking, light-toned cliffs in rock that may have formed in drier times and now are heavily eroded by winds.

"The only thing more stunning than these images is the thought that Curiosity will be driving through those lower hills one day," Vasavada said. "We couldn't help but send a postcard back to all those following her journey."

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project is using Curiosity to assess ancient habitable environments and major changes in Martian environmental conditions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech, built the rover and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl, and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/. You can follow the mission on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 14, 2015, 09:59:34 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/pwipxdQ74pU

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 14, 2015, 10:02:44 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/10/mars-curiosity-rover-msl-big-sky-selfie-portrait-pia19920-br2.jpg)

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10.13.2015
 
Curiosity Self-Portrait at 'Big Sky' Drilling Site
 
This self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Big Sky" site, where its drill collected the mission's fifth taste of Mount Sharp.

The scene combines dozens of images taken during the 1,126th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars (Oct. 6, 2015, PDT), by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the rover's robotic arm. The rock drilled at this site is sandstone in the Stimson geological unit inside Gale Crater. The location is on cross-bedded sandstone in which the cross bedding is more evident in views from when the rover was approaching the area, such as http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7468.

The view is centered toward the west-northwest. It does not include the rover's robotic arm, though the shadow of the arm is visible on the ground. Wrist motions and turret rotations on the arm allowed MAHLI to acquire the mosaic's component images. The arm was positioned out of the shot in the images, or portions of images, that were used in this mosaic. This process was used previously in acquiring and assembling Curiosity self-portraits taken at sample-collection sites "Rocknest",  "John Klein" and "Windjana."

This portrait of the rover was designed to show the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument atop the rover appearing level. This causes the horizon to appear to tilt toward the left, but in reality it is fairly flat.

For scale, the rover's wheels are 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and about 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide. The drilled hole in the rock, appearing grey near the lower left corner of the image, is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter.

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/.
 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 12, 2015, 09:37:20 AM
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11.11.2015

Upgrade Helps NASA Study Mineral Veins on Mars

Diverse composition of mineral veins at the "Garden City" site investigated by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover suggests multiple episodes of groundwater activity.

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Scientists now have a better understanding about a site with the most chemically diverse mineral veins NASA's Curiosity rover has examined on Mars, thanks in part to a valuable new resource scientists used in analyzing data from the rover.
Curiosity examined bright and dark mineral veins in March 2015 at a site called "Garden City," where some veins protrude as high as two finger widths above the eroding bedrock in which they formed.

The diverse composition of the crisscrossing veins points to multiple episodes of water moving through fractures in the bedrock when it was buried. During some wet periods, water carried different dissolved substances than during other wet periods. When conditions dried, fluids left clues behind that scientists are now analyzing for insights into how ancient environmental conditions changed over time.

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'Garden City' Vein Complex on Lower Mount Sharp, Mars

"These fluids could be from different sources at different times," said Diana Blaney, a Curiosity science team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "We see crosscutting veins with such diverse chemistry at this localized site. This could be the result of distinct fluids migrating through from a distance, carrying chemical signatures from where they'd been."
Researchers used Curiosity's laser-firing Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to record the spectra of sparks generated by zapping 17 Garden City targets with the laser. The unusually diverse chemistry detected at Garden City includes calcium sulfate in some veins and magnesium sulfate in others. Additional veins were found to be rich in fluorine or varying levels of iron.

As researchers analyzed Curiosity's observations of the veins, the ChemCam team was completing the most extensive upgrade to its data-analysis toolkit since Curiosity reached Mars in August 2012. They more than tripled -- to about 350 -- the number of Earth-rock geochemical samples examined with a test version of ChemCam. This enabled an improvement in their data interpretation, making it more sensitive to a wider range of possible composition of Martian rocks.

Blaney said, "The chemistry at Garden City would have been very enigmatic if we didn't have this recalibration."

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/11/pia19924_Blaney4-br2.jpg)

Thick, Dark Veins at 'Garden City,' Mars

The Garden City site is just uphill from a mudstone outcrop called "Pahrump Hills," which Curiosity investigated for about six months after reaching the base of multi-layered Mount Sharp in September 2014. The mission is examining ancient environments that offered favorable conditions for microbial life, if Mars has ever hosted any, and the changes from those environments to drier conditions that have prevailed on Mars for more than 3 billion years. Curiosity has found evidence that base layers of Mount Sharp were deposited in lakes and rivers. The wet conditions recorded by the Garden City veins existed in later eras, after the mud deposited in lakes had hardened into rock and cracked.
Eye-catching geometry revealed in images of the veins offers additional clues. Younger veins continue uninterrupted across intersections with veins that formed earlier, indicating relative ages.

ChemCam provides the capability of making distinct composition readings of multiple laser targets close together on different veins, rather than lumping the information together. The chemistry of these veins is also related to mineral alteration observed at other places on and near Mount Sharp. What researchers learned here can be used to help understand a very complex fluid chemical history in the region. Since leaving Garden City, Curiosity has climbed to higher, younger layers of Mount Sharp.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/11/pia19923_Blaney3-br2.jpg)

Dark, Thin Fracture-Filling Material

Today, Blaney presented findings from ChemCam's Garden City investigations at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Science, in National Harbor, Maryland.
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. More information is available at:

http://www.msl-chemcam.com

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory built Curiosity and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more the mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 20, 2015, 11:50:36 AM
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Curiosity Rover Will Study Dunes on Route up Mountain
 
This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a dark sand dune in the middle distance. The rover's examination of dunes on the way toward higher layers of Mount Sharp will be the first in-place study of an active sand dune anywhere other than Earth.

The scene combines several images taken on Sept. 25, 2015, during the 1,115th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars. The images are from Mastcam's right-eye camera, which has a telephoto lens. The view is toward south-southwest.

The dunes on Curiosity's route are part of a band of dunes called "Bagnold Dunes," along the northwestern edge of Mount Sharp. The informal naming recognizes British military engineer Ralph Bagnold (1896-1990), a pioneer in the study of how winds move sand particles of dunes on Earth. The dune field is evident as a dark band in orbital images of the area inside Gale Crater were Curiosity has been active since landing in 2012, such as a traverse map at http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7543.

Dunes are larger than wind-blown ripples of sand or dust that Curiosity and other rovers have visited previously. One dune that Curiosity will investigate in coming days is as tall as a two-story building and as broad as a football field. Ripples on the surface of these Martian dunes are larger than ripples on the surfaces of sand dunes on Earth.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/11/pia19932_ESP_042682_1755_color_Dune_1-br2.jpg)

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Orbital View of Dune That Curiosity Will Visit
 
This view taken from orbit around Mars shows the sand dune that will be the first to be visited by NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover along its route to higher layers of Mount Sharp.

The view covers an area about 1,250 feet (about 380 meters) across, showing a site called "Dune 1" in the "Bagnold Dunes" dune field. It was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image is in false color, combining information recorded by HiRISE in red, blue-green and infrared frequencies of light.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 20, 2015, 11:54:28 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/11/pia19928-MAIN_MR4971-br2.jpg)

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On its way to higher layers of the mountain where it is investigating how Mars' environment changed billions of years ago, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will take advantage of a chance to study some modern Martian activity at mobile sand dunes.

In the next few days, the rover will get its first close-up look at these dark dunes, called the "Bagnold Dunes," which skirt the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. No Mars rover has previously visited a sand dune, as opposed to smaller sand ripples or drifts. One dune Curiosity will investigate is as tall as a two-story building and as broad as a football field. The Bagnold Dunes are active: Images from orbit indicate some of them are migrating as much as about 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year. No active dunes have been visited anywhere in the solar system besides Earth.
"We've planned investigations that will not only tell us about modern dune activity on Mars but will also help us interpret the composition of sandstone layers made from dunes that turned into rock long ago," said Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena, California.

As of Monday, Nov. 16, Curiosity has about 200 yards or meters remaining to drive before reaching "Dune 1." The rover is already monitoring the area's wind direction and speed each day and taking progressively closer images, as part of the dune research campaign. At the dune, it will use its scoop to collect samples for the rover's internal laboratory instruments, and it will use a wheel to scuff into the dune for comparison of the surface to the interior.

Curiosity has driven about 1,033 feet (315 meters) in the past three weeks, since departing an area where its drill sampled two rock targets just 18 days apart. The latest drilled sample, "Greenhorn," is the ninth since Curiosity landed in 2012 and sixth since reaching Mount Sharp last year. The mission is studying how Mars' ancient environment changed from wet conditions favorable for microbial life to harsher, drier conditions.

Before Curiosity's landing, scientists used images from orbit to map the landing region's terrain types in a grid of 140 square quadrants, each about 0.9 mile (1.5 kilometers) wide. Curiosity entered its eighth quadrant this month. It departed one called Arlee, after a geological district in Montana, and drove into one called Windhoek, for a geological district in Namibia. Throughout the mission, the rover team has informally named Martian rocks, hills and other features for locations in the quadrant's namesake area on Earth. There's a new twist for the Windhoek Quadrant: scientists at the Geological Society of Namibia and at the Gobabeb Research and Training Center in Namibia have provided the rover team with a list of Namibian geological place names to use for features in this quadrant. The Windhoek theme was chosen for this sand-dune-bearing quadrant because studies of the Namib Desert have aided interpretation of dune and playa environments on Mars.

What distinguishes actual dunes from windblown ripples of sand or dust, like those found at several sites visited previously by Mars rovers, is that dunes form a downwind face steep enough for sand to slide down. The effect of wind on motion of individual particles in dunes has been studied extensively on Earth, a field pioneered by British military engineer Ralph Bagnold (1896-1990). Curiosity's campaign at the Martian dune field informally named for him will be the first in-place study of dune activity on a planet with lower gravity and less atmosphere.

Observations of the Bagnold Dunes with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that mineral composition is not evenly distributed in the dunes. The same orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment has documented movement of Bagnold Dunes.

"We will use Curiosity to learn whether the wind is actually sorting the minerals in the dunes by how the wind transports particles of different grain size," Ehlmann said.

As an example, the dunes contain olivine, a mineral in dark volcanic rock that is one of the first altered into other minerals by water. If the Bagnold campaign finds that other mineral grains are sorted away from heavier olivine-rich grains by the wind's effects on dune sands, that could help researchers evaluate to what extent low and high amounts of olivine in some ancient sandstones could be caused by wind-sorting rather than differences in alteration by water.

Ehlmann and Nathan Bridges of the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, lead the Curiosity team's planning for the dune campaign.
"These dunes have a different texture from dunes on Earth," Bridges said. "The ripples on them are much larger than ripples on top of dunes on Earth, and we don't know why. We have models based on the lower air pressure. It takes a higher wind speed to get a particle moving. But now we'll have the first opportunity to make detailed observations."
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 20, 2015, 11:57:24 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/11/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1162-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 11, 2015, 08:27:22 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1876

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Fast Facts: -- Curiosity is using its wheels, as well as its science payload, to investigate sand that forms active dunes on Mars.
 -- Plans call for the rover to scoop up and sieve sand for onboard laboratory analysis.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has begun an up-close investigation of dark sand dunes up to two stories tall. The dunes are on the rover's trek up the lower portion of a layered Martian mountain.

A view of the rippled surface of what's been informally named "High Dune" is online at:
http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7581

A wheel track exposing material beneath the surface of a sand sheet nearby is at:
http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7582

The dunes close to Curiosity's current location are part of "Bagnold Dunes," a band along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater. Observations of this dune field from orbit show that edges of individual dunes move as much as 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year.

The rover's planned investigations include scooping a sample of the dune material for analysis with laboratory instruments inside Curiosity.

Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp in 2014 after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

For more information about Curiosity, visit:
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1185-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/Curiosity_Location_Sol1187-fi.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 16, 2015, 12:35:28 PM
https://www.youtube.com/v/ur_TeOs3S64

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on December 18, 2015, 08:51:09 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/Marias-Pass-Contact-Zone-Martian-Rock-Units-pia20174-MAIN-flt-noscl-br2.jpg)
'Marias Pass,' Contact Zone of Two Martian Rock Units
This May 22, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the "Marias Pass" area where a lower and older geological unit of mudstone -- the pale zone in the center of the image -- lies in contact with an overlying geological unit of sandstone.
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12.17.2015
Rocks Rich in Silica Present Puzzles for Mars Rover Team

In detective stories, as the plot thickens, an unexpected clue often delivers more questions than answers. In this case, the scene is a mountain on Mars. The clue: the chemical compound silica. Lots of silica. The sleuths: a savvy band of Earthbound researchers whose agent on Mars is NASA's laser-flashing, one-armed mobile laboratory, Curiosity.
NASA's Curiosity rover has found much higher concentrations of silica at some sites it has investigated in the past seven months than anywhere else it has visited since landing on Mars 40 months ago. Silica makes up nine-tenths of the composition of some of the rocks. It is a rock-forming chemical combining the elements silicon and oxygen, commonly seen on Earth as quartz, but also in many other minerals.

"These high-silica compositions are a puzzle. You can boost the concentration of silica either by leaching away other ingredients while leaving the silica behind, or by bringing in silica from somewhere else," said Albert Yen, a Curiosity science team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Either of those processes involve water. If we can determine which happened, we'll learn more about other conditions in those ancient wet environments."

Water that is acidic would tend to carry other ingredients away and leave silica behind. Alkaline or neutral water could bring in dissolved silica that would be deposited from the solution. Apart from presenting a puzzle about the history of the region where Curiosity is working, the recent findings on Mount Sharp have intriguing threads linked to what an earlier NASA rover, Spirit, found halfway around Mars. There, signs of sulfuric acidity were observed, but Curiosity's science team is still considering both scenarios -- and others -- to explain the findings on Mount Sharp.
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/Big-Sky-Greenhorn-Drilling-Area-Mount-Sharp-pia20270-br2.jpg)
'Big Sky' and 'Greenhorn' Drilling Area on Mount Sharp
This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover covers an area in "Bridger Basin" that includes the locations where the rover drilled a target called "Big Sky" on the mission's Sol 1119 (Sept. 29, 2015) and a target called "Greenhorn" on Sol 1137 (Oct. 18, 2015).
The scene combines portions of several observations taken from sols 1112 to 1126 (Sept. 22 to Oct. 6, 2015) while Curiosity was stationed at Big Sky drilling site. The Big Sky drill hole is visible in the lower part of the scene. The Greenhorn target, in a pale fracture zone near the center of the image, had not yet been drilled when the component images were taken. Researchers selected this pair of drilling sites to investigate the nature of silica enrichment in the fracture zones of the area.
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Adding to the puzzle, some silica at one rock Curiosity drilled, called "Buckskin," is in a mineral named tridymite, rare on Earth and never seen before on Mars. The usual origin of tridymite on Earth involves high temperatures in igneous or metamorphic rocks, but the finely layered sedimentary rocks examined by Curiosity have been interpreted as lakebed deposits. Furthermore, tridymite is found in volcanic deposits with high silica content. Rocks on Mars' surface generally have less silica, like basalts in Hawaii, though some silica-rich (silicic) rocks have been found by Mars rovers and orbiters. Magma, the molten source material of volcanoes, can evolve on Earth to become silicic. Tridymite found at Buckskin may be evidence for magmatic evolution on Mars.
Curiosity has been studying geological layers of Mount Sharp, going uphill, since 2014, after two years of productive work on the plains surrounding the mountain. The mission delivered evidence in its first year that lakes in the area billions of years ago offered favorable conditions for life, if microbes ever lived on Mars. As Curiosity reaches successively younger layers up Mount Sharp's slopes, the mission is investigating how ancient environmental conditions evolved from lakes, rivers and deltas to the harsh aridity of today's Mars.

Seven months ago, Curiosity approached "Marias Pass," where two geological layers are exposed in contact with each other. The rover's laser-firing instrument for examining compositions from a distance, Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam), detected bountiful silica in some targets the rover passed on its way to the contact zone. The rover's Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons instrument simultaneously detected that the rock composition was unique in this area.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/Curiosity-Path-2015-Studies-Silica-Rich-Rocks-pia20173-br2.jpg)
This map shows the route on lower Mount Sharp that NASA's Curiosity followed between April 19, 2015, and Nov. 5, 2015. During this period the mission investigated silica-rich rock targets including "Buckskin," in the "Maria Pass" area, and "Greenhorn," in the "Bridger Basin" area.
High-silica sites were identified both in the Murray formation -- the lowest and oldest geological unit the rover has visited on Mount Sharp -- and in the overlying Stimson geological unit, which is visible in sandstone ridges within this study area.
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"The high silica was a surprise -- so interesting that we backtracked to investigate it with more of Curiosity's instruments," said Jens Frydenvang of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Gathering clues about silica was a major emphasis in rover operations over a span of four months and a distance of about one-third of a mile (half a kilometer).

The investigations included many more readings from ChemCam, plus elemental composition measurements by the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the rover's arm and mineral identification of rock-powder samples by the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument inside the rover.

Buckskin was the first of three rocks where drilled samples were collected during that period. The CheMin identification of tridymite prompted the team to look at possible explanations: "We could solve this by determining whether trydymite in the sediment comes from a volcanic source or has another origin," said Liz Rampe, of Aerodyne Industries at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. "A lot of us are in our labs trying to see if there's a way to make tridymite without such a high temperature."

Beyond Marias Pass, ChemCam and APXS found a pattern of high silica in pale zones along fractures in the bedrock, linking the silica enrichment there to alteration by fluids that flowed through the fractures and permeated into bedrock. CheMin analyzed drilled material from a target called "Big Sky" in bedrock away from a fracture and from a fracture-zone target called "Greenhorn." Greenhorn indeed has much more silica, but not any in the form of tridymite. Much of it is in the form of noncrystalline opal, which can form in many types of environments, including soils, sediments, hot spring deposits and acid-leached rocks.
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/Silica-Rich-Elk-pia20267-br2.jpg)
This image from the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows detailed texture of a rock target called "Elk" on Mars' Mount Sharp, revealing laminations that are present in much of the Murray Formation geological unit of lower Mount Sharp.
Researchers also used ChemCam's laser and spectrometers to assess Elk's composition and found it to be rich in silica.
The image covers a patch of rock surface about 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) across. It was taken on May 22, 2015, during the mission's 992nd Martian day, or sol. ChemCam's Remote Micro-Imager camera, on top of Curiosity's mast, captured the image from a distance of about 9 feet (2.75 meters). Annotations in red identify five points on Elk that were hit with ChemCam's laser. Each of the highlighted points is a location where ChemCam fired its laser 30 times to ablate a tiny amount of target material. By analyzing the light emitted from this laser-ablation, researchers can deduce the composition of that point. For some purposes, composition is presented as a combination of the information from multiple points on the same rock. However, using the points individually can track fine-scale variations in targets.
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"What we're seeing on Mount Sharp is dramatically different from what we saw in the first two years of the mission," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL. "There's so much variability within relatively short distances. The silica is one indicator of how the chemistry changed. It's such a multifaceted and curious discovery, we're going to take a while figuring it out."
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 07, 2016, 08:19:56 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/mars-slip-face-downwind-sand-dune-namib-sol1196-pia20281-labeled-br2.jpg)
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01.04.2016
 
Slip face on Downwind Side of 'Namib' Sand Dune on Mars (Labeled)

This view from NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover shows the downwind side of "Namib Dune," which stands about 13 feet (4 meters) high. The site is part of Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes along the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp.

The component images stitched together into this scene were taken with Curiosity's Navigation Camera (Navcam) on Dec. 17, 2015, during the 1,196th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars. In late 2015 and early 2016, Curiosity is conducting the first up-close studies ever made of active sand dunes anywhere but on Earth. Under the influence of Martian wind, the Bagnold Dunes are migrating up to about one yard or meter per Earth year. The view spans from westward on the left to east-southeastward on the right. It is presented as a cylindrical perspective projection.

The downwind, or lee, side of the dunes displays textures quite different from those seen on other surfaces of the dunes. Compare this scene, for example, to a windward surface of nearby "High Dune" (at http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7581) from three weeks earlier. As on Earth, the downwind side of a sand dune has a steep slope called a slip face. Sand grains blowing across the windward side of a dune become sheltered from the wind by the dune itself. The sand falls out of the air and builds up on the lee slope until it becomes steepened and flows in mini-avalanches down the face.

This image provides annotations identifying several key features at the downwind side of Namib Dune. From left to right:

-- Horn: where sand is escaping from the dune's lee slope and moving downwind. The ripples overlying the bedrock indicate the escape of the sand.

-- Toe: the downwind extent of the dune.

-- Brink: the transition from the windward (stoss) side of the dune to the downwind (lee) side. The brink is marked by a change in slope from the shallow slopes of the dune crest to the steep slopes of the lee side.

-- Grain Fall: smooth areas that indicate grains bouncing over the brink and coming to rest.

-- Ripples: small ripples that form as sand bounces sideways across the face of the lee slope. Ripples have formed over earlier grain flows that likely occurred when winds were stronger and blowing more directly over the brink of the dune.

-- Grain Flow: tongue-shaped feature caused by sand avalanching down the lee slope of the dune. When sand builds up near the brink of the dune and becomes overly steepened, it flows down the slope. The source area of this flow is also noted. Grain flows are the primary way the dune moves forward over time. Ripples have not yet formed on this surface, suggesting that the flow is recent.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover and its Navcam. For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.nasa.gov/msl.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2015/12/Curiosity_Location_Sol1196-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 22, 2016, 09:57:27 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/01/mars-curiosity-rover-sand-dune-bagnold-br2.jpg)

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At its current location for inspecting an active sand dune, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is adding some sample-processing moves not previously used on Mars.
Sand from the second and third samples the rover is scooping from "Namib Dune" will be sorted by grain size with two sieves. The coarser sieve is making its debut, and using it also changes the way the treated sample is dropped into an inlet port for laboratory analysis inside the rover.

Positioning of the rover to grab a bite of the dune posed a challenge, too. Curiosity reached this sampling site, called "Gobabeb," on Jan. 12.
"It was pretty challenging to drive into the sloping sand and then turn on the sand into the position that was the best to study the dunes," said Michael McHenry of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. He is the Curiosity mission's campaign rover planner for collecting these samples.

Curiosity has scooped up sample material at only one other site since it landed on Mars in August 2012. It sampled dust and sand at a windblown drift site called "Rocknest" in October and November 2012. Between there and Gobabeb, the rover collected sample material for analysis at nine rock targets, by drilling rather than scooping.

The mission's current work is the first close-up study of active sand dunes anywhere other than Earth. Namib and nearby mounds of dark sand are part of the "Bagnold Dune Field," which lines the northwestern flank of a layered mountain where Curiosity is examining rock records of ancient environmental conditions on Mars. Investigation of the dunes is providing information about how wind moves and sorts sand particles in conditions with much less atmosphere and less gravity than on Earth.

Sand in dunes has a range of grain sizes and compositions. Sorting by wind will concentrate certain grain sizes and compositions, because composition is related to density, based on where and when the wind has been active. The Gobabeb site was chosen to include recently formed ripples. Information about these aspects of Mars' modern environment may also aid the mission's interpretation of composition variations and ripple patterns in ancient sandstones that formed from wind or flowing water.

Curiosity scooped its first dune sample on Jan. 14, but the rover probed the dune first by scuffing it with a wheel. "The scuff helped give us confidence we have enough sand where we're scooping that the path of the scoop won't hit the ground under the sand," McHenry said.

That first scoop was processed much as Rocknest samples were: A set of complex moves of a multi-chambered device on the rover's arm passed the material through a sieve that screened out particles bigger than 150 microns (0.006 inch); some of the material that passed the sieve was dropped into laboratory inlet ports from a "portioner" on the device; material blocked by the sieve was dumped onto the ground.

The portioner is positioned directly over an opened inlet port on the deck of the rover to drop a portion into it when the processing device is vibrating and a release door is opened. Besides analyzing samples delivered to its internal laboratory instruments, Curiosity can use other instruments to examine sample material dumped onto the ground.

Curiosity collected its second scoop of Gobabeb on Jan. 19. This is when the coarser sieve came into play. It allows particles up to 1 millimeter (1,000 microns or 0.04 inch) to pass through.

Sand from the second scoop was initially fed to the 150-micron sieve. Material that did not pass through that sieve was then fed to the 1-millimeter sieve. The fraction routed for laboratory analysis is sand grains that did not pass through the finer sieve, but did pass through the coarser one.

"What you have left is predominantly grains that are smaller than 1 millimeter and larger than 150 microns," said JPL's John Michael Morookian, rover planning team lead for Curiosity.

This fraction is dropped into a laboratory inlet by the scoop, rather than the portioner. Morookian decribed this step: "We start the vibration and gradually tilt the scoop. The material flows off the end of the scoop, in more of a stream than all at once."

Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp in 2014 after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the layered mountain. On the lower portion of the mountain, the mission is studying how Mars' ancient environment changed from wet conditions favorable for microbial life to harsher, drier conditions. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://mars.nasa.gov/msl
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 16, 2016, 03:22:05 PM
Our intrepid rover does a lot of drilling and sampling of the tailings... a great video to explain how this works...

https://www.youtube.com/v/Qa2sc6-u59I



Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 17, 2016, 07:01:42 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/03/Mars-Curiosity-Map-MSL-Waypoints-Sol1269-PIA20166-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/03/Curiosity_Location_Sol1283-fi.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 30, 2016, 07:28:04 AM
Wind erosion on Mars...

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01283/mcam/1283MR0060320060304322E01_DXXX.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 31, 2016, 08:33:34 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/wPOCcG33mJQ

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 28, 2016, 10:30:31 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1906

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04.27.2016
Curiosity Mars Rover Crosses Rugged Plateau

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/04/mars-terrain-naukluft-plateau-mount-sharp-PIA20332-full.jpg)
http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7810

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has nearly finished crossing a stretch of the most rugged and difficult-to-navigate terrain encountered during the mission's 44 months on Mars.
The rover climbed onto the "Naukluft Plateau" of lower Mount Sharp in early March after spending several weeks investigating sand dunes. The plateau's sandstone bedrock has been carved by eons of wind erosion into ridges and knobs. The path of about a quarter mile (400 meters) westward across it is taking Curiosity toward smoother surfaces leading to geological layers of scientific interest farther uphill.

The roughness of the terrain on the plateau raised concern that driving on it could be especially damaging to Curiosity's wheels, as was terrain Curiosity crossed before reaching the base of Mount Sharp. Holes and tears in the rover's aluminum wheels became noticeable in 2013. The rover team responded by adjusting the long-term traverse route, revising how local terrain is assessed and refining how drives are planned. Extensive Earth-based testing provided insight into wheel longevity.

Routine Inspection of Rover Wheel Wear and Tear
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/04/mars-inspection-rover-wheel-PIA20334-br2.jpg)

The rover team closely monitors wear and tear on Curiosity's six wheels. "We carefully inspect and trend the condition of the wheels," said Steve Lee, Curiosity's deputy project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Cracks and punctures have been gradually accumulating at the pace we anticipated, based on testing we performed at JPL. Given our longevity projections, I am confident these wheels will get us to the destinations on Mount Sharp that have been in our plans since before landing."
Inspection of the wheels after crossing most of the Naukluft Plateau has indicated that, while the terrain presented challenges for navigation, driving across it did not accelerate damage to the wheels.

On Naukluft Plateau, the rover's Mast Camera has recorded some panoramic scenes from the highest viewpoints Curiosity has reached since its August 2012 landing on the floor of Gale Crater on Mars. Examples are available online at these sites:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20332 (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20332)
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20333 (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA20333)

The scenes show wind-sculpted textures in the sandstone bedrock close to the rover, and Gale Crater's rim rising above the crater floor in the distance. Mount Sharp stands in the middle of the crater, which is about 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter.

The next part of the rover's route will return to a type of lake-deposited mudstone surface examined previously. Farther ahead on lower Mount Sharp are three geological units that have been key destinations for the mission since its landing site was selected. One of the units contains an iron-oxide mineral called hematite, which was detected from orbit. Just above it lies a band rich in clay minerals, then a series of layers that contain sulfur-bearing minerals called sulfates. By examining them with Curiosity, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how long ancient environmental conditions remained favorable for microbial life, if it was ever present on Mars, before conditions became drier and less favorable.

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. Most of the wheel's circumference is a metallic skin that is about half the thickness of a U.S. dime. Nineteen zigzag-shaped treads, called grousers, 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.

The holes seen in the wheels so far perforate only the skin. Wheel-monitoring images obtained every 547 yards (500 meters) have not yet shown any grouser breaks on Curiosity. Earth-based testing examined long-term wear characteristics and the amount of damage a rover wheel can sustain before losing its usefulness for driving. The tests indicate that when three grousers on a wheel have broken, that wheel has reached about 60 percent of its useful mileage.

At a current odometry of 7.9 miles (12.7 kilometers) since its August 2012 landing, Curiosity's wheels are projected to have more than enough life remaining to investigate the hematite, clay and sulfate units ahead, even in the unlikely case that up to three grousers break soon. The driving distance to the start of the sulfate-rich layers is roughly 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers) from the rover's current location.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/04/Curiosity_Location_Sol1317-full.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 12, 2016, 07:18:46 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/-mkA6uxBI2Y

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 12, 2016, 07:22:02 AM
Quote
05.11.2016
Second Cycle of Martian Seasons Completing for Curiosity Rover

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover today completes its second Martian year since landing inside Gale Crater nearly four Earth years ago, which means it has recorded environmental patterns through two full cycles of Martian seasons.
The repetition helps distinguish seasonal effects from sporadic events. For example, a large spike in methane in the local atmosphere during the first southern-hemisphere autumn in Gale Crater was not repeated the second autumn. It was an episodic release, still unexplained. However, the rover's measurements do suggest that much subtler changes in the background methane concentration -- amounts much less than during the spike -- may follow a seasonal pattern. Measurements of temperature, pressure, ultraviolet light reaching the surface and the scant water vapor in the air at Gale Crater show strong, repeated seasonal changes.

Monitoring the modern atmosphere, weather and climate fulfills a Curiosity mission goal supplementing the better-known investigations of conditions billions of years ago. Back then, Gale Crater had lakes and groundwater that could have been good habitats for microbes, if Mars has ever had any. Today, though dry and much less hospitable, environmental factors are still dynamic.

Curiosity's Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), supplied by Spain's Centro de Astrobiología, has measured air temperatures from 60.5 degrees Fahrenheit (15.9 degrees Celsius) on a summer afternoon, to minus 148 F (minus 100 C) on a winter night. Seasonal patterns in temperature, water vapor and pressure that Curiosity has measured in Gale Crater are charted in a new graphic at:

http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7818

"Curiosity's weather station has made measurements nearly every hour of every day, more than 34 million so far," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "The duration is important, because it's the second time through the seasons that lets us see repeated patterns."

Each Martian year -- the time it takes the Red Planet to orbit the sun once -- lasts 687 Earth days. Curiosity landed on Aug. 5, 2012, (Pacific Time; Aug. 6, Universal Time). It begins its third Martian year on May 11, 2016, during the mission's 1,337th Martian day, or "sol," since landing. Each Martian sol lasts about 39.6 minutes longer than an Earth day, and a Martian year lasts 668.6 sols.

The similar tilts of Earth and Mars give both planets a yearly rhythm of seasons. But some differences are great, such as in comparisons between day and night temperatures. Even during the time of the Martian year when temperatures at Gale Crater rise above freezing during the day, they plummet overnight below minus 130 F (minus 90 C), due to the thin atmosphere. Also, the more-elliptical orbit of Mars, compared to Earth, exaggerates the southern-hemisphere seasons, making them dominant even at Gale Crater's near-equatorial location.

"Mars is much drier than our planet, and in particular Gale Crater, near the equator, is a very dry place on Mars," said Germán Martínez, a Curiosity science-team collaborator from Spain at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. "The water vapor content is a thousand to 10 thousand times less than on Earth."

Relative humidity is a function of both temperature and water-vapor content. During winter nights, Curiosity has measured relative humidity of up to 70 percent, high enough to prompt researchers to check for frost forming on the ground. Other Mars landers have detected frost, but Curiosity has not.

Curiosity's air-pressure measurements confirm a strong seasonal trend previously seen by other missions. "There are large changes due to the capture and release of carbon dioxide by the seasonal polar caps," Martínez explained. Most of the Martian atmosphere is carbon dioxide. During each pole's winter, millions of tons of this gas freeze solid, only to be released again in spring, prompting very un-Earthlike seasonal variations of about 25 percent in atmospheric pressure.

Other seasonal patterns measured by Curiosity and repeated in the rover's second Martian year are that the local atmosphere is clear in winter, dustier in spring and summer, and windy in autumn. Visibility in Gale Crater is as low as 20 miles (30 kilometers) in summer, and as high as 80 miles (130 kilometers) in winter.

For tracking changes in the concentration of methane in the air above Gale Crater, researchers use the tunable laser spectrometer in Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of instruments. These measurements are made less often than REMS measurements, though frequently enough to tease out seasonal patterns. For most of the two Martian years, the rover has measured methane concentrations between 0.3 and 0.8 parts per billion. For several weeks during the first autumn, the level spiked, reaching 7 parts per billion. The mission checked carefully for a repeat of that spike during the second autumn, but concentrations stayed at lower background levels.

"Doing a second year told us right away that the spike was not a seasonal effect," said JPL's Chris Webster of the SAM team. "It's apparently an episodic event that we may or may not ever see again."

However, the mission is continuing to monitor a possible seasonal pattern in the background methane concentration. The background level is far less than the spike level, but it appears to be even lower in autumn than in other seasons. If this pattern is confirmed, it may be related to the pressure pattern measured by REMS or to seasonal change in ultraviolet radiation, which is measured by REMS in concert with the rover's Mast Camera.

"This shows not only the importance of long-term monitoring, but also the importance of combining more than one type of measurement from a single platform," Webster said.

While continuing to study the modern local environment, Curiosity is investigating geological layers of lower Mount Sharp, inside Gale Crater, to increase understanding of ancient changes in environmental conditions.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/05/mars-curiosity-atmosphere-labeled-pia20600-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 15, 2016, 03:01:18 PM
Quote
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has analyzed its 12th drilled sample of Mars. This sample came from mudstone bedrock, which the rover resumed climbing in late May after six months studying other features.

Since the previous time Curiosity drilled into this "Murray formation" layer of lower Mount Sharp, the mission has examined active sand dunes along the rover's route, then crossed a remnant plateau of fractured sandstone that once more extensively covered the Murray formation.
While on the "Naukluft Plateau," the rover examined its 10th and 11th drill targets to repeat an experiment comparing material within and away from pale zones around fractures. From there, Curiosity also took the latest in a series of self-portraits.

"Now that we've skirted our way around the dunes and crossed the plateau, we've turned south to climb the mountain head-on," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Since landing, we've been aiming for this gap in the terrain and this left turn. It's a great moment for the mission."

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.

The Murray formation is about one-eighth of a mile (200 meters) thick. So far, Curiosity has examined about one-fifth of its vertical extent.

"The story that the Murray formation is revealing about the habitability of ancient Mars is one of the mission's surprises," Vasavada said. "It wasn't obvious from pre-mission data that it formed in long-lived lakes and that its diverse composition would tell us about the chemistry of those lakes and later groundwater."

The latest sample-collection target, "Oudam," was drilled on June 4. On the Naukluft Plateau, Curiosity drilled "Lubango," within a halo of brighter sandstone near a fracture, and "Okoruso," away from a fracture-related halo, for comparison. The mission conducted a similar experiment last year, with two sample targets drilled at another exposure of the fractured sandstone.

This sandstone unit, called the Stimson formation, is interpreted to have resulted from wind that draped a band of sand dunes over lower Mount Sharp. That would have been after the main stack of the mountain's lower layers had formed and partially eroded. Water later moved through fractures in the sandstone. Investigation of the fracture-related halos aims to determine how fluid moved through the fractures and altered surrounding rock.

"We were about to drive off the Naukluft Plateau and leave the Stimson formation forever as we go up Mount Sharp," said Curiosity science-team member Albert Yen of JPL. "A few of us were concerned. The fracture-associated haloes were becoming more prevalent, and we had only one data point. With just one data point, you never know whether it is representative."

As with the similar previous experiment, comparison of Lubango and Okoruso found higher silica and sulfate levels in the sample nearer to the fracture. Multiple episodes of groundwater flow with different chemistry at different times may have both delivered silica and sulfate from elsewhere and leached other ingredients away.

"The big-picture story is that this may be one of the youngest fluid events we're likely to study with Curiosity," Yen said. "You had to lay down the Murray, then cement it, then lay down the Stimson and cement that, then fracture the Stimson, then have fluids moving through the fractures."

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


(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/06/mars-curiosity-rover-msl-drill-targets-samples-map-pia20748-br2.jpg)
Quote
Curiosity's First 14 Rock or Soil Sampling Sites on Mars

This graphic maps the first 14 sites where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover collected rock or soil samples for analysis using the rover's onboard laboratory. It also presents images of the drilled holes where 12 rock-powder samples were acquired. At the other two sites Curiosity scooped soil samples.

This graphic maps locations of the first 14 sites where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover collected rock or soil samples for analysis by laboratory instruments inside the vehicle. It also presents images of the drilled holes where 12 rock-powder samples were acquired. At the other two sites -- Rocknest and Gobabeb -- Curiosity scooped soil samples.

The diameter of each drill hole is about 0.6 inch (1.6 centimeters), slightly smaller than a U.S. dime. The images used here are raw color, as recorded by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera. Notice the differences in color of the material at different drilling sites.

The latest sample site included is "Oudam," where Curiosity drilled into mudstone of the "Murray formation" on June 4, during the 1,361th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Curiosity landed in August 2012 on the plain (named Aeolis Palus) near Mount Sharp (or Aeolis Mons).

Dates when the first 11 drilled-rock samples were collected are: "John Klein" on Feb. 8, 2013 (Sol 182); "Cumberland" on May 19, 2013 (Sol 279); "Windjana" on May 5, 2014 (Sol 621); "Confidence Hills" on Sept. 24, 2014 (Sol 759); "Mojave" on Jan. 29, 2015 (Sol 882); "Telegraph Peak" on Feb. 24, 2015 (Sol 908); "Buckskin" on July 30, 2015 (Sol 1060); "Big Sky" on Sept. 29, 2015 (Sol 1119); "Greenhorn" on Oct. 18, 2015 (Sol 1137); "Lubango" on April 23, 2016 (Sol 1320); and "Okoruso" on May 5, 2016 (Sol 1332).

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/.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: spuwho on June 15, 2016, 10:17:02 PM
Interesting reports on Martian weather.  The thinner the atmosphere, the larger range of temps.  I wasn't aware that the Martian equator exceeded freezing (0 C) in their summer.  Imagine if the air was just a few parts thicker.

As far as long term living for us Earth bound folk, Martian living (no matter how glorious Elon Musk makes it) is fraught with serious challenges, most of which is the fractional gravity.

Long duration stays on the ISS has found that the absence of gravity causes the eyeballs to deform over time. Essentially anyone living on Mars without any kind of gravitational supplement (a spinning chamber, or artificial grav) will go blind after a couple of years. The distance between the eye lens and your retina will no longer align properly.

Its awesome that we would like to have a presence there, but until some better technology can be transplanted from the world of Star Trek, it will be a short stay for most folks.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 28, 2016, 09:19:28 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1916

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/06/mars-rover-curiosity-oxygen-windjana-PIA20752-br2.jpg)
Quote
This scene shows NASA's Curiosity Mars rover at a location called "Windjana," where the rover found rocks containing manganese-oxide minerals, which require abundant water and strongly oxidizing conditions to form.

Quote
NASA's Curiosity at Site of Clues About Ancient Oxygen

Chemicals found in Martian rocks by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover suggest the Red Planet once had more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does now.
Researchers found high levels of manganese oxides by using a laser-firing instrument on the rover. This hint of more oxygen in Mars' early atmosphere adds to other Curiosity findings -- such as evidence about ancient lakes -- revealing how Earth-like our neighboring planet once was.

This research also adds important context to other clues about atmospheric oxygen in Mars' past. The manganese oxides were found in mineral veins within a geological setting the Curiosity mission has placed in a timeline of ancient environmental conditions. From that context, the higher oxygen level can be linked to a time when groundwater was present in the rover's Gale Crater study area.

"The only ways on Earth that we know how to make these manganese materials involve atmospheric oxygen or microbes," said Nina Lanza, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. "Now we're seeing manganese oxides on Mars, and we're wondering how the heck these could have formed?"

Microbes seem far-fetched at this point, but the other alternative -- that the Martian atmosphere contained more oxygen in the past than it does now -- seems possible, Lanza said. "These high manganese materials can't form without lots of liquid water and strongly oxidizing conditions. Here on Earth, we had lots of water but no widespread deposits of manganese oxides until after the oxygen levels in our atmosphere rose."

Lanza is the lead author of a new report about the Martian manganese oxides in the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters. She uses Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument, which fires laser pulses from atop the rover's mast and observes the spectrum of resulting flashes of plasma to assess targets' chemical makeup.

In Earth's geological record, the appearance of high concentrations of manganese oxide minerals is an important marker of a major shift in our atmosphere's composition, from relatively low oxygen abundances to the oxygen-rich atmosphere we see today. The presence of the same types of materials on Mars suggests that oxygen levels rose there, too, before declining to their present values. If that's the case, how was that oxygen-rich environment formed?

"One potential way that oxygen could have gotten into the Martian atmosphere is from the breakdown of water when Mars was losing its magnetic field," said Lanza. "It's thought that at this time in Mars' history, water was much more abundant." Yet without a protective magnetic field to shield the surface, ionizing radiation started splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Because of Mars' relatively low gravity, the planet wasn't able to hold onto the very light hydrogen atoms, but the heavier oxygen atoms remained behind. Much of this oxygen went into rocks, leading to the rusty red dust that covers the surface today. While Mars' famous red iron oxides require only a mildly oxidizing environment to form, manganese oxides require a strongly oxidizing environment, more so than previously known for Mars.

Lanza added, "It's hard to confirm whether this scenario for Martian atmospheric oxygen actually occurred. But it's important to note that this idea represents a departure in our understanding for how planetary atmospheres might become oxygenated." Abundant atmospheric oxygen has been treated as a so-called biosignature, or a sign of extant life, but this process does not require life.

Curiosity has been investigating sites in Gale Crater since 2012. The high-manganese materials it found are in mineral-filled cracks in sandstones in the "Kimberley" region of the crater. But that's not the only place on Mars where high manganese abundances have been found. NASA's Opportunity rover, exploring Mars since 2004, also recently discovered high manganese deposits thousands of miles from Curiosity. This supports the idea that the conditions needed to form these materials were present well beyond Gale Crater.

Los Alamos National Laboratory leads the U.S. and French team that jointly developed and operates ChemCam. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, built the rover and manages the Curiosity mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 07, 2016, 06:54:05 AM
STATUS REPORT
07.06.2016
Curiosity Rover Enters Precautionary Safe Mode

MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY MISSION STATUS REPORT
The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is taking steps to return the rover to full activity following a precautionary stand-down over the Fourth of July weekend.

Curiosity is now communicating with ground controllers and is stable. The rover put itself into safe mode on July 2, ceasing most activities other than keeping itself healthy and following a prescribed sequence for resuming communications.

Engineers are working to determine the cause of safe-mode entry. Preliminary information indicates an unexpected mismatch between camera software and data-processing software in the main computer. The near-term steps toward resuming full activities begin with requesting more diagnostic information from Curiosity.

Curiosity has entered safe mode three times previously, all during 2013.

The rover landed in Mars' Gale Crater in August 2012. During its first year on Mars, the mission achieved its goal by determining that, more than 3 billion years ago, the region offered fresh-water lakes and rivers with environmental conditions well-suited to supporting microbial life, if life has ever existed on Mars. In continuing investigations, the mission is learning more about the ancient wet environments and how and when they evolved to drier and less habitable conditions.

NASA last week approved an additional two-year extension, beginning Oct. 1, 2016, for the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which developed and operates Curiosity.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 13, 2016, 12:30:07 PM
07.06.2016
Curiosity Mars Rover Resumes Full Operations

MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY MISSION STATUS REPORT
UPDATED JULY 11 AT 1:15 p.m. PT

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is resuming full operations today, following work by engineers to investigate why the rover put itself into a safe standby mode on July 2. The rover team brought Curiosity out of safe mode on July 9.

The most likely cause of entry into safe mode has been determined to be a software mismatch in one mode of how image data are transferred on board. Science activity planning for the rover is avoiding use of that mode, which involves writing images from some cameras' memories into files on the rover's main computer. Alternate means are available for handling and transmitting all image data.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 22, 2016, 07:08:18 AM
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1925

Quote
07.21.2016
NASA Mars Rover Can Choose Laser Targets on Its Own

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover autonomously selects some targets for the laser and telescopic camera of its ChemCam instrument. For example, on-board software analyzed the Navcam image at left, chose the target indicated with a yellow dot, and pointed ChemCam for laser shots and the image at right.

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/07/pia20762_AEGIS-ChemCam-Sol-1400-br2.jpg)

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover autonomously selects some of the targets for the laser and telescopic camera of the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument. For example, on-board software analyzed the image on the left, chose the target highlighted with the yellow dot, and pointed ChemCam to acquire laser analysis and the image on the right.

Most ChemCam targets are still selected by scientists discussing rocks or soil seen in images the rover has sent to Earth, but the autonomous targeting provides an added capability. It can offer a head start on acquiring composition information at a location just reached by a drive. The software for target selection and instrument pointing is called AEGIS, for Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science.

The image on the left was taken by the left eye of Curiosity's stereo Navigation Camera (Navcam) a few minutes after the rover completed a drive of about 43 feet (13 meters) on July 14, 2016, during the 1,400th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars. Using AEGIS for target selection and pointing based on the Navcam imagery, Curiosity's ChemCam zapped a grid of nine points on a rock chosen for meeting criteria set by the science team. In this run, parameters were set to find bright-toned outcrop rock rather than darker rocks, which in this area tend to be loose on the surface. Within less than 30 minutes after the Navcam image was taken, ChemCam had used its laser on all nine points and had taken before-and-after images of the target area with its remote micro-imager (RMI) camera. The image at right combines those two RMI exposures. The nine laser targets are marked in red at the center.

On the Navcam image at left, the yellow dot identifies the selected target area, which is about 2.2 inches (5.6 centimeters) in diameter. An unannotated version of this Sol 1400 Navcam image is available as Fig. A.

ChemCam records spectra of glowing plasma generated when the laser hits a target point. These spectra provide information about the chemical elements present in the target. The light-toned patch of bedrock identified by AEGIS on Sol 1400 appears, geochemically, to belong to the "Stimson" sandstone unit of lower Mount Sharp. In mid-2016, Curiosity typically uses AEGIS for selecting a ChemCam target more than once per week.

AEGIS software was developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. ChemCam is one of 10 instruments in Curiosity's science payload. 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/ .

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP/LPGNantes/CNRS/IAS
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on August 19, 2016, 02:36:03 PM
Curiosity has driven: 8.50 miles (13.68 kilometers)as of Sol 1431

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/08/Curiosity_Location_Sol1431-full.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/01432/opgs/edr/ncam/NRB_524621785EDR_F0562428NCAM00283M_-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01432/mcam/1432ML0070750050602507E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/01428/soas/rdr/ccam/CR0_524257514PRC_F0561326CCAM02428L1-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 08, 2016, 08:35:49 AM
Just a couple of "tourist" pix...  8)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01450/mcam/1450MR0071790080703114E01_DXXX.jpg)

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01447/mcam/1447ML0071660010602722E01_DXXX.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 04, 2016, 07:29:40 AM
Quote
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 September 2016 at "Murray Buttes," and the path planned for reaching destinations at "Hematite Unit" and "Clay Unit" on lower Mount Sharp.

Blue triangles mark waypoints investigated by Curiosity during the rover's two-year prime mission and first two-year extended mission.  The Hematite Unit and Clay Unit are key destinations for the second two-year extension, through September 2018.

The base image for the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is up. Bagnold Dunes form a band of dark, wind-blown material at the foot of Mount Sharp.

The scale bar at lower right represents one kilometer (0.62 mile).  For broader-context images of the area, see http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA17355, http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16064  and http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16058.

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

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/09/MSL-Curiosity-Mount-Sharp-route-traverse-pia20846-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 04, 2016, 07:38:23 AM
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/was-there-ever-life-on-mars/

Quote
Was There Ever Life on Mars?
Harsh radiation, thin air, and frigid temperatures on the Red Planet likely forced any extant microbes into subterranean refuges long ago
By Jesse Emspak, SPACE.com on October 4, 2016

If life existed on Mars, it would have had to deal with harsh radiation—and any traces of that life might only be found deep under the soil today.
During the Mars Society annual meeting on Sept. 22-25, held in Washington, D.C., Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist and geologist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, outlined the constraints on whether living things could have existed on the Red Planet and what obstacles they would have faced, as well as whether it's possible that any life could still be there.
It's important for scientists to make sure they recognize life when they see it, not just to learn more about the universe, but also because such life-forms could potentially be hazardous to humans, she said.

"The [Mars Science Laboratory on the Curiosity rover] was never prepared for looking for signs of life," she said. "The Curiosity rover's instruments are designed so that scientists could answer the questions of whether it's possible for life to have existed in the past and whether any traces would be detectable. That's the first thing one has to know before one looks for signatures of living things."

The challenges for living things on Mars started billions of years ago, when the planet, for whatever reason, lost its magnetic field, Eigenbrode said. That left Mars with nothing to block the solar wind, which slowly bled off the planet's atmosphere.
"This also exposed the planet surface to all of the radiation" from the sun, Eigenbrode said. "The atmosphere was being blown away. This complicates the evolution of a biosphere."

As the atmosphere thinned, more ionizing radiation could reach the ground. That type of radiation tends to break up organic molecules, which are molecules containing carbon, Eigenbrode said. She added that in lab experiments, exposure to radiation at levels similar to those on Mars' surface destroys up to 90 percent of large carbon molecules.

If life appeared on Mars in the past, when the planet might have been wetter, with a thicker atmosphere, then organisms could have gotten a foothold, she said. That is, life could have then adapted to a higher-radiation environment over time and retreated deeper underground for protection, Eigenbrode said.

Signatures of such life might still exist now, she said; the instruments on the Curiosity rover were designed to find out if it was possible for those signs to survive. Curiosity data showed that some large carbon-based molecules remain in the soil of Mars, and they aren't just the results of contamination from the rover itself.

Eigenbrode added that future missions will have to get below the planet's surface, though, to check for traces of previous life. "If we are looking for something old from an ancient environment, we want to go deep … about 2 to 3 meters [about 6.5 to 10 feet]."
Besides protection from radiation, life also needs liquid water. Eigenbrode pointed to some encouraging signs that the vital molecule is present on Mars, such as formations in Gale crater. Researchers have identified mudstones and sedimentary bands, which form only if there is water present for a long time, on the order of millennia.

In another good sign, Eigenbrode said, Curiosity found evidence that water can bubble to the Martian surface and turn to frost. "Perhaps that water is bringing organisms to the surface," she said.
As for surface life existing now, that is much less likely, due to the intense radiation, she said.
Even though Curiosity found carbon molecules, that doesn't necessarily mean that life existed, even in the past, Eigenbrode said. Such molecules can show up from three sources, she said. One is interplanetary and interstellar dust, which are rich with such molecules. The second is chemical reactions underground. The last one is actual living things.
 
The search for Martian life could provide a number of benefits, Eigenbrode said. Beyond the scientific value of finding alien organisms, researchers want to identify living creatures on Mars because they might be dangerous to people. 
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 25, 2016, 07:05:52 AM
It has been windy on Mars lately...  Check out the 1 day movement of tailings from the latest drill hole...

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01496/mhli/1496MH0001900010504609C00_DXXX.jpg)
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01497/mhli/1497MH0001900010504689C00_DXXX.jpg)

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: wanderson91 on October 25, 2016, 08:07:36 AM
I love all of these updates!
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 02, 2016, 12:49:15 PM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/11/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1507-full.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 02, 2016, 02:03:31 PM
http://www.seeker.com/nasa-mars-curiosity-discovery-mars-meteorite-exploration-robotics-2076189974.html

Quote
Nov 2, 2016 01:00 PM ET
Space Invader on Mars: Curiosity Finds a Meteorite
 
But the likely nickel-iron meteorite isn't the first specimen the rover has discovered in the Martian dirt.

(https://resize.rbl.ms/simage/https%3A%2F%2Fassets.rbl.ms%2F8457494%2F1200x600.jpg/2000%2C2000/BNOLP%2BiOR0Rqd9s9/img.jpg)

If you're familiar with the pockmarked landscape of Mars, you'll know that the Red Planet gets hit by meteorites a lot. So it stands to reason that you'll likely find the occasional ex-space rock just sitting out there on the surface, particularly if your primary task is to constantly look down. And it just so happens we have a robotic geologist that has been getting intimate with Mars rocks since 2012 and it has just found a new rock beyond Mars.

The meteorite was discovered in imagery taken by Curiosity's Mastcam on sol (day) 1503 of its mission (Oct. 28) and followup studies by the rover's ChemCam on Oct. 30 revealed the object's strange, melted structure (pictured below)(Notice the nine laser scars). Curiosity is currently climbing the slopes of Mount Sharp (Aeolis Mons) in the center of Gale Crater after leaving the geologically fascinating region of "Murray Buttes."

University of Arizona planetary scientists believe that it is a metallic nickel-iron rich meteorite, which are commonly found on Earth. This Martian example has been nicknamed "Egg Rock" by the Curiosity mission team.

The interesting thing about meteorites on the Martian surface is that they are not subject to some of the aggressive weathering terrestrial meteorites are. Mars' atmosphere is very dry, limiting the amount of moisture that can degrade the pristine material. These factors help to preserve the meteorite material for indefinite periods, particularly if they are metal-rich.

Also, as the Mars atmosphere is so thin, compared with Earth's hefty atmospheric gases, Mars meteors will more likely hit the ground as meteorites and not completely burn up. Therefore future human meteorite hunters would want to consider field trips to Mars to collect these treasures as they hold many clues to the composition of ancient asteroids that formed when the solar system was young.

(https://fsmedia.imgix.net/6a/98/d8/2f/8529/4f13/a2ff/45dc9eca868a/a-closeup-of-the-meteorite-known-as-egg-rock.jpeg?rect=0,220,1171,586&dpr=2&auto=format,compress,enhance&q=75)

Due to their comparative abundance on the surface, future Mars colonists may also seek out meteorites such as these so precious metals can be extracted and used for industrial processes. Although the increased risk of more frequent meteorite strikes will be a problem, the reward could be a potential goldmine of rare metals that can be found on or near the surface. Why mine asteroids when you can extract asteroid chunks from the Martian dirt?

Though obviously a rare find for our robotic explorer, this certainly isn't the first meteorite that's been found on the Martian surface. For example, in 2014 the 6-wheeled rover spotted a huge 2 meter-wide meteorite sticking out of the Martian regolith. Mars Exploration Rovers Opportunity and Spirit have also been pretty successful meteorite hunters.

As both Curiosity and Opportunity continue to explore the Martian surface, it will be interesting to see how many more space rocks they find, potentially providing an estimate of how many meteorites may be accessible to our future Martian explorers to find.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 03, 2016, 07:54:10 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/imgs/2016/11/msl-rover-curiosity-finds-meteorite-mars-pia21134-br2.jpg)
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

Quote
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
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on November 03, 2016, 07:55:53 AM
(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/11/mars-meteor-egg-rock-pia21133-br2.jpg)

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/ .
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll 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

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/msl-curiosity-color-mount-sharp-white-balanced-sol1516-pia21256-br2.jpg)

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.

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/curiosity-mars-rover-gale-crater-comparison-lakebed-Grotzinger-pia21255-br2.gif)
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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
(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/msl-curiosity-traverse-map-crisp1-pia21144-br2.jpg)
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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.

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/msl-drill-targets-sol1495-pia21254-br2.jpg)

"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.

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/msl-chemin-clay-minerals-graph-bristow1a-pia21147-br2.jpg)

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.

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/msl-chemcam-mastcam-catabola-pia21251-br2.jpg)

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."

(http://mars.nasa.gov/imgs/2016/12/msl-boron-sodium-chlorine-mineral-diyogha-pia21252-br2.jpg)

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/
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 18, 2017, 09:02:47 AM
Mars Rover Curiosity Examines Possible Mud Cracks

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/01/pia21261-MAIN_MAHLI-sol-1566-90cm-full2.jpg)

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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



Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll 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
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 28, 2017, 09:20:22 AM
Curiosity films a Dust Devil... Check it out!

(http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/02/martian-dust-devil-pia21270-br2.gif)

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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.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on February 28, 2017, 09:24:05 AM
Laser hits on sand dune... ouch...  8)

(http://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01621/mcam/1621MR0083150000801213E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Jason on February 28, 2017, 09:42:27 AM
Love the dust devil footage!

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll 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/

(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/03/msl-rover-wheel-damage-pia21486-full2.jpg)

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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/.

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01641/mhli/1641MH0002620000602987E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01641/mhli/1641MH0002620000602971E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01641/mhli/1641MH0002610010602972E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 24, 2017, 08:13:18 AM
(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/04/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1673-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 16, 2017, 01:46:34 PM
http://www.space.com/36841-mars-rover-curiosity-computer-glitch-60-minutes.html


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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.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 19, 2017, 08:54:57 AM
Just thought this was a cool set of pictures...  8)
(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01698/mcam/1698MR0088560000803232E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01698/mcam/1698MR0088550000803230E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01698/mcam/1698ML0088530020701236E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)





Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: spuwho on May 19, 2017, 12:08:04 PM
Looks like some dried out creek bed in Wyoming.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll 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
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 01, 2017, 07:56:32 AM
Quote
'High-Silica 'Halos' Shed Light on Wet Ancient Mars'
05.30.2017

(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/05/MSL-Curiosity-Discolored-Fracture-Zones-in-Martian-Sandstone-PIA21649-full2.jpg)

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

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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.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 02, 2017, 07:27:45 AM
https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2017/curiosity-peels-back-layers-on-ancient-martian-lake

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'Curiosity Peels Back Layers on Ancient Martian Lake'
06.01.2017

(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/images/mars-curiosity-rover-mastcam-sedimentary-deposit-lakebed-rocks-pia19074-full2.jpg)

Fast Facts:
-- NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission has provided an unprecedented level of detail about an ancient lake environment on Mars that offered favorable conditions for microbial life.
-- A lake in Mars' Gale Crater long ago was stratified, with oxidant-rich shallows and oxidant-poor depths.
-- The lake offered multiple types of microbe-friendly environments simultaneously.

A long-lasting lake on ancient Mars provided stable environmental conditions that differed significantly from one part of the lake to another, according to a comprehensive look at findings from the first three-and-a-half years of NASA's Curiosity rover mission.
Different conditions favorable for different types of microbes existed simultaneously in the same lake.
Previous work had revealed the presence of a lake more than three billion years ago in Mars' Gale Crater. This study defines the chemical conditions that existed in the lake and uses Curiosity's powerful payload to determine that the lake was stratified. Stratified bodies of water exhibit sharp chemical or physical differences between deep water and shallow water. In Gale's lake, the shallow water was richer in oxidants than deeper water was.

(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/06/Diagram-Lake-Stratification-Mars-PIA21500-full2.jpg)

"These were very different, co-existing environments in the same lake," said Joel Hurowitz of Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, lead author of a report of the findings in the June 2 edition of the journal Science. "This type of oxidant stratification is a common feature of lakes on Earth, and now we've found it on Mars. The diversity of environments in this Martian lake would have provided multiple opportunities for different types of microbes to survive, including those that thrive in oxidant-rich conditions, those that thrive in oxidant-poor conditions, and those that inhabit the interface between those settings."
Whether Mars has ever hosted any life is still unknown, but seeking signs of life on any planet -- whether Earth, Mars or more-distant icy worlds -- begins with reconstruction of the environment to determine if it was capable of supporting life.
Curiosity's primary goal when it landed inside Gale Crater in 2012 was to determine whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. In its first year, on the crater floor at "Yellowknife Bay," the rover found evidence of ancient freshwater river and lake environments with all the main chemical ingredients for life and a possible energy source for life. Curiosity has since driven to the base of Mount Sharp, a layered mountain inside the crater, and inspected rock layers that grow progressively younger as the rover gains elevation on lower Mount Sharp.
Differences in the physical, chemical and mineral characteristics of several sites on lower Mount Sharp at first presented a puzzle to the rover team. For example, some rocks showed thicker layering with a larger proportion of an iron mineral called hematite, while other rocks showed very fine layers and more of an iron mineral called magnetite. Comparing these properties suggested very distinctive environments of deposition.
Researchers considered whether these differences could have resulted from environmental conditions fluctuating over time or differing from place to place.
"We could tell something was going on," Hurowitz said. "What was causing iron minerals to be one flavor in one part of the lake and another flavor in another part of the lake? We had an 'Aha!' moment when we realized that the mineral information and the bedding-thickness information mapped perfectly onto each other in a way you would expect from a stratified lake with a chemical boundary between shallow water and deeper water."
In addition to revealing new information about chemical conditions within the lake, the report by Hurowitz and 22 co-authors also documents fluctuations in the climate of ancient Mars. One such change happened between the time crater-floor rocks were deposited and the time the rocks that now make up the base of Mount Sharp were deposited. Those later rocks are exposed at "Pahrump Hills" and elsewhere.
The method the team used for detecting changes in ancient climate conditions on Mars resembles how ice cores are used to study past temperature conditions on Earth. It is based on comparing differences in the chemical composition of layers of mud-rich sedimentary rock that were deposited in quiet waters in the lake. While the lake was present in Gale, climate conditions changed from colder and drier to warmer and wetter. Such short-term fluctuations in climate took place within a longer-term climate evolution from the ancient warmer and wetter conditions that supported lakes, to today's arid Mars.
"These results give us unprecedented detail in answering questions about ancient environmental conditions on Mars," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "I'm struck by how these fascinating conclusions on habitability and climate took everything the mission had to offer: a set of sophisticated science instruments, multiple years and miles of exploration, a landing site that retained a record of the ancient environment, and a lot of hard work by the mission team."
In mid-2017, Curiosity is continuing to reach higher and younger layers of Mount Sharp to study how the ancient lake environment evolved to a drier environment more like modern Mars. The mission is managed by JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Curiosity and other Mars science missions are all part of ambitious robotic exploration to understand Mars, which helps lead the way for sending humans to Mars in the 2030s. For more about Curiosity, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov/curiosity
https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on July 13, 2017, 07:36:40 AM
(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/07/pia21720_MSL_Landing_to_MtSharp_traverse_Sol1750-br2.jpg)

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07.11.2017
Mid-2017 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 July 2017, and its planned path to additional geological layers of lower Mount Sharp.

The blue star near top center marks "Bradbury Landing," the site where Curiosity arrived on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, EDT and Universal Time). Blue triangles mark waypoints investigated by Curiosity on the floor of Gale Crater and, starting with "Pahrump Hills," on Mount Sharp. The Sol 1750 label identifies the rover's location on July 9, 2017, the 1,750th Martian day, or sol, since the landing.

In July 2017, the mission is examining "Vera Rubin Ridge" from the downhill side of the ridge. Spectrometry observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have detected hematite, an iron-oxide mineral, in the ridge. Curiosity's planned route continues to the top of the ridge and then to geological units where clay minerals and sulfate minerals have been detected from orbit.

The base image for the map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is up. "Bagnold Dunes" form a band of dark, wind-blown material at the foot of Mount Sharp.

The scale bar at lower right represents one kilometer (0.62 mile). For broader-context images of the area, see PIA17355, PIA16064 and PIA16058.

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 13, 2017, 08:39:24 AM
https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/

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Sol 1814: Spectacular views
Written by Rachel E. Kronyak on 09.12.2017

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/01812/opgs/edr/ncam/NRB_558365037EDR_F0660000NCAM00253M_-br2.jpg)
As we've seen from the past several weeks and months of imaging, Curiosity's approach to and ascent of the Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) has provided us with stunning views of the Mount Sharp terrain. Our parking spot after this weekend's drive was no exception, seen in the Navcam image above. In today's plan we are continuing our trek up the lower strata of the VRR and have no shortage of multi-colored bedrock targets to image and analyze.

Today we planned two sols. On Sol 1814, we planned a touch-and-go (APXS analysis + full suite of MAHLI images) on the dark bedrock target "Pumpkin Nob." Additional science block activities include a corresponding ChemCam raster and Mastcam image of Pumpkin Nob. We'll also perform a multispectral Mastcam observation on "Weymouth Point," a region of VRR terrain just ahead of Curiosity. Following a drive, we'll take our standard post-drive images and DAN active observation. On Sol 1815, we have a short mid-day science block, during which ENV will conduct a suprahorizon movie and dust devil survey. ENV also has its standard REMS observations.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 13, 2017, 08:41:00 AM
(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/09/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1809-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on September 20, 2017, 09:30:14 AM
https://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/ancient-lake-mars-hospitable-enough-support-life/

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ANCIENT LAKE ON MARS WAS HOSPITABLE ENOUGH TO SUPPORT LIFE
By Amanda Doyle - Sep 18, 2017

An up-close view of Mars’ rocky deposits by NASA’s Curiosity rover shows a changing climate in the planet’s ancient past that would have left the surface warm and humid enough to support liquid water — and possibly life. Evidence of an ancient lake points to the prospect of two unique habitats within its shores; the lower part of the lake was devoid of oxygen compared to an oxygen-rich upper half.

In a recent paper published in the journal Science, “Redox stratification of an ancient lake in Gale crater,” Stony Brook University geoscientist Joel Hurowitz and his colleagues used more than three years of data retrieved from the rover to paint a picture of ancient conditions at Gale Crater, the lowest point in a thousand kilometers. The site, a 150-mile kilometer crater formed during an impact around 3.8 billion years ago, once flowed with rivers ending in a lake. The sedimentary rocks laid down by these rivers and onto the lakebed tell the story of how the environment changed over time.

Curiosity landed on a group of sedimentary rocks known as the Bradbury group. The rover sampled a part of this group called the Sheepbed mudstones, as well as rocks from the Murray formation at the base of the 5-kilometer high peak at the center of the crater known as Mount Sharp. Both types of rocks were deposited in the ancient lake, but the Sheepbed rocks are older and occur lower in the stratigraphic layers of rocks. Comparing the two types of rocks can lead to interesting revelations about the paleoenvironment.

Rocks that form at the same time in the same area can nevertheless display differences in composition and other characteristics. These different groupings are known as “facies” and the Murray formation is split into two facies. One is comprised mainly of hematite and phyllosilicate, and given the name HP, while the other is the magnetite-silicate facies, known as MS.

“The two Murray facies were probably laid down at about the same time within different parts of the lake,” explained Hurowitz. “The former laid down in shallow water, and the latter in deeper water.”
(https://www.astrobio.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/cross-section.jpg)
Curiosity landed on rocks known as the Bradbury group. The Murray formation consist of younger rocks at the base of Mount Sharp. The height is exaggerated in the diagram. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The near-shore HP facies have thicker layers in the rocks compared to the thin layers of the deeper water MS facies. This difference in layer thickness is because the river flowing into the lake would have slowed down and dumped some of its sedimentary material at the lake shore. The flow would then have spread into the lake and dropped finer material into the deeper parts of the lake. .

The different mineralogy of the two facies was caused by the lake becoming separated into two layers. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation along with low levels of atmospheric oxygen penetrated the upper part of the lake and acted as oxidants on molecules in the water. These ions of iron (Fe2+) and manganese (Mn2+) were brought to the lake via seepage of groundwater through the lake floor.

When the UV and oxygen interacted with these, they lost electrons, meaning that they had become “oxidized.” The oxidized iron and manganese precipitated into minerals — hematite and manganese oxide — that eventually made up the rocks sampled by Curiosity in the HP facies. However, the UV and oxygen didn’t reach all the way to the lake floor, so the iron and manganese wasn’t oxidized in the deeper part of the lake, and instead became the mineral known as magnetite, making up the MS facies.

The difference in oxidation of the two facies in the Murray formation due to differences in layers of the lake is known as redox stratification. Identifying redox stratification in the ancient lake shows that there were two completely different types of potential habitat available to any microbial life that might have been present.

The researchers also discovered that the Murray formation has a high concentration of salts, which provide clues relating to evaporation of the lake, and thus the end of the potential habitat. High salinity is a result of water evaporating and leaving salts behind. However, evaporation leaves other tell-tale signs such as desiccation cracks — similar to what you see when mud dries and cracks — and none of these signs appear in the Murray formation. This indicates that the evaporation occurred at a later period of time and that the salts seeped through layers overlying the Murray formation before becoming deposited in the Murray rocks.

“Curiosity will definitely be able to examine the rocks higher up in the stratigraphy to determine if lake evaporation influenced the rocks deposited in it,” said Hurowitz. “In fact, that’s exactly what the rover is doing as we speak at the area known as Vera Rubin Ridge.”
(https://www.astrobio.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/gale-crater-1.jpg)
The inflowing river deposits thicker material (clastics) close to the lake shore, and finer material towards the deeper part of the lake. The incoming UV and O2 oxidizes the iron and manganese in the upper part of the lake, but not the lower part of the lake. This creates what is known as redox stratification and is reflected in the different mineralogy of the two different facies of the Murray formation. Credit: Hurowitz et al. (2017). Science.

Once Curiosity examines these rocks, it will be able to confirm that the salts found in the Murray formation came from a later period of evaporation, and therefore no significant evaporation occurred during the time that the Murray formation was deposited, meaning the environment would have been stable enough to support possible life forms.

Another result of the research is evidence of climate change. The older Sheepbed formation shows very little evidence of chemical weathering compared to the Murray formation. The change to substantial chemical weathering in the younger rocks indicates that the climate likely changed from cold, arid conditions to a warm, wet one.

“The timing of this climate shift is not something we can tell for sure because we haven’t seen the Sheepbed member and the Murray formation in contact with each other,” said Hurowitz. “If we had, then we might be able to tell if the change in their chemical and mineralogical properties were abrupt (indicating rapid climate change) or gradual. At best, what we can say is that the rocks that we examined were likely deposited over a timespan of tens of thousands of years to as much as around 10 million years.”

The cause of the climate change on Mars is still a matter of debate. If the climate changed in a short period of time, it could have been due to short-term variations or an asteroid impact. A slower change in climate could have been the result of changes in the obliquity cycle of the planet.

The climate change indicated in the rocks shows that the ancient Martian environment would have been warm and humid enough to sustain liquid water on the surface. The redox stratification of the lake as revealed by the different mineralogy in the Murray formation shows that there would have been two different environments within the lake itself. If microbial life was present on Mars at this time, the different potentially habitable niches could have encouraged diversity with anaerobic forms possibly living in the lower depths of the lake.

“I’m not sure that this was something we would have predicted if we hadn’t had the opportunity to examine Gale’s rock record up close and personal,” adds Hurowitz.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 11, 2018, 08:16:17 AM
Last report was 3+ months ago and Curiosity has not moved far in distance but it has climbed atop Vera Rubin Ridge where it has found more interesting geology on its way up Mount Sharp...

https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

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Curiosity has made it to "Region e" of the Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR) campaign. This location is a slight depression with exposed fractured bedrock that appears more "blue" from orbit than the surrounding region. In addition, the orbital evidence and observations from the ground suggest that this location is similar to "Region 10" that we visited just last week, which was shown to have some pretty spectacular small-scale features that were of particular interest to many on the science team. As a result, the team was very excited to reach "Region e" and begin our scientific investigation!

During the first day of this plan, Curiosity will focus on acquiring an incredible amount of high-resolution Mast Camera (Mastcam) color images of the area immediately in front of the rover, the "mid-range" region a few meters in front of the rover, and the entirety of Mt. Sharp. This is an anomalous amount of data to collect at a given time, but we are able to do so thanks to the help of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft, which will be helping us to downlink those images over the course of the next week. With the exception of the Mt. Sharp images, the other data are to characterize any small-scale geologic features present within "Region e," and the plan is to have these images back to Earth before Friday's planning session.

In the afternoon of the first day, we will unfurl Curiosity's arm to characterize an unfractured piece of bedrock in front of the rover named "Unst." We will use the Dust Removal Tool (DRT) to remove any surface dust, image the patch of bedrock with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument, and then place the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) instrument on the target for an overnight integration to derive its bulk chemistry.

On the second day of the plan, Curiosity will utilize its Chemistry & Camera (ChemCam) to remotely acquire chemistry data on two targets of interest. The first will be "Canna," a knobby piece of bedrock, and the second will be "Aberfoyle," the flattest portion of this blocky region in front of the rover. Aberfoyle will also be the target of an APXS measurement that evening. Mastcam will be used to document these targets, in addition to the automated ChemCam observation that was obtained two days earlier. The "Aberfoyle" ChemCam observation is beneficial for two reasons. First, we will be acquiring additional chemical measurements of this target that will be analyzed with APXS. Second, the laser blasts of ChemCam will help to remove any surface dust on the target, which will allow APXS to more confidently measure the bedrock composition with minimal input from the fine-grained dust. After this suite of measurements, the arm will then be moved into position to image the "Canna" target, the "Aberfoyle" target, and also a nearby layerred rock named "Funzie." After these images are acquired, the APXS instrument will be placed on "Aberfoyle" for an overnight integration.

On the final day of the plan, ChemCam will analyze the chemistry of the "Unst" target (which was analyzed by APXS on the first evening of the plan), the "Funzie" target (to determine if there are any compositional variations associated with the observed layers), and a new target named "Morar," which is a piece of bedrock that shows some unique patterns that might be due to fracturing, the presence of veins, and/or sculpting by the wind. After the ChemCam observations, we will acquire Mastcam documentation images, and then make some environmental observations with Mastcam and Navcam to hunt for dust devils and to assess the amount of dust in the air.

(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/imgs/2017/12/MSL_TraverseMap_Sol1912-full.jpg)

(https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01927/mhli/1927MH0002970010703402C00_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/01931/opgs/edr/fcam/FRB_568933885EDR_F0672420FHAZ00337M_-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01930/mcam/1930ML0100740020704573E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01930/mcam/1930ML0100740000704571E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01929/mhli/1929MH0001930000703504R00_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Notice the 5 laser marks...
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 30, 2018, 09:04:38 AM
Lasers in the sand...  8)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01948/mcam/1948MR0101780000901285C00_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: sanmarcomatt on January 30, 2018, 09:14:09 AM
Lasers in the sand...  8)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01948/mcam/1948MR0101780000901285C00_DXXX-br2.jpg)

I see 5 rings.

It wouldn't surprise me if a 6th appears around 10PM Sunday night.
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on January 31, 2018, 08:39:32 AM
NEWS | January 30, 2018
Vista From Mars Rover Looks Back Over Journey So Far

https://mars.nasa.gov/news/8302/vista-from-mars-rover-looks-back-over-journey-so-far/

Very cool video released by NASA yesterday.  I am posting the pictures and article but I invite you to go to the page and look at the high resolution pictures...  8)

https://www.youtube.com/v/U5nrrnAukwI

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A panoramic image that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover took from a mountainside ridge provides a sweeping vista of key sites visited since the rover's 2012 landing, and the towering surroundings.

The view from "Vera Rubin Ridge" on the north flank of Mount Sharp encompasses much of the 11-mile (18-kilometer) route the rover has driven from its 2012 landing site, all inside Gale Crater. One hill on the northern horizon is about 50 miles (about 85 kilometers) away, well outside of the crater, though most of the scene's horizon is the crater's northern rim, roughly one-third that distance away and 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) above the rover.

Quote
Locator Map for Features in Curiosity Panorama
(https://mars.nasa.gov/system/resources/detail_files/21466_pia22208_Locator_Map_for_sol_1856_pans.jpg)
Curiosity's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, took the component images of the panorama three months ago while the rover paused on the northern edge of Vera Rubin Ridge. The mission has subsequently approached the southern edge of the ridge and examined several outcrop locations along the way.
Last week, the Curiosity team on Earth received copious new images from the rover through a record-setting relay by NASA's MAVEN orbiter -- surpassing a gigabit of data during a single relay session from Mars for the first time in history.

The team is preparing to resume use of Curiosity's drill for acquiring powdered rock samples to be analyzed by laboratory instruments inside the rover, more than a year after the most recent of the 15 times the drill has pulled sample material from Martian rocks.

Inside an Impact Crater

Mount Sharp stands in the middle of Gale Crater, which is 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter.

"Even though Curiosity has been steadily climbing for five years, this is the first time we could look back and see the whole mission laid out below us," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "From our perch on Vera Rubin Ridge, the vast plains of the crater floor stretch out to the spectacular mountain range that forms the northern rim of Gale Crater." The rover photographed the scene shortly before northern Mars' winter solstice, a season of clear skies, gaining a sharp view of distant details.

Curiosity's exact landing spot on the floor of the crater lies out of sight behind a slight rise, but the scene includes "Yellowknife Bay." That's where, in 2013, the mission found evidence of an ancient freshwater-lake environment that offered all of the basic chemical ingredients for microbial life. Farther north are the channel and fan of Peace Vallis, relics of the streams that carried water and sediment into the crater about three billion years ago.

(https://mars.nasa.gov/system/resources/detail_files/21467_pia22209_right-eye-sol-1856-pan-plain.jpg)

Sites such as "Kimberley" and "Murray Buttes" along the rover's route are marked on an annotated posting of the panorama. The Mastcam recorded both a wider version of the scene (from southwest to northeast) with its left-eye, 34-millimeter-lens camera and a more detailed, narrower version with its right-eye, 100-millimeter-lens camera. 

(https://mars.nasa.gov/system/resources/detail_files/21468_pia22210-NASA.jpg)

The site from which these images were taken sits 1,073 feet (327 meters) in elevation above Curiosity's landing site. Since leaving that site, the rover has climbed another 85 feet (26 meters) in elevation. In recent days, the Mastcam has recorded component images for a panorama looking uphill southward toward the mission's next major destination area. That is called the "Clay Unit" because observations from orbit detected clay minerals there.

Record Relay

The opportunity for some high-volume relay sessions with the MAVEN orbiter is helping the Curiosity team gain a bounty of images and other data this month.

Most data from Curiosity, through the years, have been relayed to Earth by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey orbiter, which fly in nearly circular, nearly polar orbits predictably passing over Curiosity at about the same times every day. MAVEN, for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, flies an elliptical orbit varying more than 40-fold from its nearest to farthest point from Mars. This suits MAVEN's science focus on Mars' atmosphere but results in variable coverage for relaying rover data. Usually, MAVEN passes over rover locations when the distance is too large for optimal relays. However, during occasional periods when the low point of its orbit is near Curiosity's location on Mars, the relays can serve exceedingly well.

"MAVEN definitely has the potential to move lots of data for us, and we expect to make even more use of it in the future," said JPL's Roy Gladden, manager of NASA's Mars Relay Network Office. The Jan. 22 relay of 1,006 megabits topped the previous record of 840 megabits, also set by MAVEN, but might in turn be bested by other favorable MAVEN relay opportunities in coming days.

The rover team intends to put Curiosity's drill to work on Vera Rubin Ridge before proceding to the Clay Unit. Resuming use of the drill requires an enterprising workaround for a mechanical problem that appeared in late 2016 and suspended use of the drill. A motor within the drill that advances the bit relative to stabilizer points no longer operates reliably.The workaround being evaluated thoroughly on a test rover at JPL does not use the stabilizer points. It moves the whole drill forward, with bit extended, by motion of the robotic arm.

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1077 / 202-358-1726
laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov / dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov



Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on March 26, 2018, 09:07:30 AM
(https://mars.nasa.gov/system/news_items/main_images/8323_PIA22313_1200.jpg)

Quote
NEWS | March 22, 2018
Mars Curiosity Celebrates Sol 2,000

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. An image mosaic taken by the rover in January offers a preview of what comes next.

Looming over the image is Mount Sharp, the mound Curiosity has been climbing since September 2014. In the center of the image is the rover's next big, scientific target: an area scientists have studied from orbit and have determined contains clay minerals.

The formation of clay minerals requires water. Scientists have already determined that the lower layers of Mount Sharp formed within lakes that once spanned Gale Crater’s floor. The area ahead could offer additional insight into the presence of water, how long it may have persisted, and whether the ancient environment may have been suitable for life.

Curiosity's science team is eager to analyze rock samples pulled from the clay-bearing rocks seen in the center of the image. The rover recently started testing its drill again on Mars for the first time since December 2016. A new process for drilling rock samples and delivering them to the rover's onboard laboratories is still being refined in preparation for scientific targets like the area with clay minerals.

Curiosity landed in August 2012 and has traveled 11.6 miles (18.7 kilometers) in that time. In 2013, the mission found evidence of an ancient freshwater-lake environment that offered all the basic chemical ingredients for microbial life. Since reaching Mount Sharp in 2014, Curiosity has examined environments where both water and wind have left their marks. Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and groundwater, Curiosity's international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at least millions of years.

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is available at:

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-2433

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: exnewsman on March 26, 2018, 09:37:56 AM
Wait a minute now.. isn't Las Vegas right over that hill?
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on April 06, 2018, 07:10:28 AM
Quote
Factoids: Mars is the only known planet inhabited exclusively by active robots. It has been this way for over fourteen Earth years, with a cumulative total of twenty-six Earth years of roving by four vehicles. Together these rovers have logged over 70 km of distance, well over half of that by the Opportunity rover. (Curiosity will likely hit the 20 km mark later this year).

Robots with guns...  8)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/02013/mhli/2013MH0003060010800631C00_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on May 23, 2018, 01:24:54 PM
Curiosity is about to drill into a pretty cool rock named... Duluth...  8)

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/02054/mcam/2054ML0108870040800875E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

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Sols 2056-2058: Poised
Written by Michelle Minitti on 05.21.2018

This weekend, Curiosity will attempt to sink the drill into the complexly-layered "Duluth" block. Before that, she will gather more data from the "Blunts Point" member rocks in front of and around us. The Duluth target, neatly cleared of dust by the DRT in yesterday's plan, will be observed by ChemCam's passive mode and Mastcam's multispectral mode to gauge what iron mineralogy was hiding beneath the target's thin veneer of dust. ChemCam will shoot three targets to learn more about the chemistry of the layers within the Duluth block and similar blocks around it. Within the Duluth block, ChemCam will target "Chisholm," the delicate layer curling up above the top of the Duluth block, and "Aitkin," another layer jutting out from the side of the block. The "Buhl" target sits off to the rover's right and represents another example of the Blunts Point member for ChemCam to sample. Mastcam will then image two large blocks dubbed "Kabetogama" to learn more about the intricate layering of the Blunts Point member. Before drilling, Curiosity will also give the sky some attention. Images and movies acquired in the early morning will measure dust and look for clouds, while images and movies at mid-day will measure dust and look for dust devils. REMS and RAD will gather data regularly as the weekend progresses.

The second sol is the centerpiece of the plan, when we attempt to sink the drill into the Duluth block. Before drilling, MAHLI will capture "before" images of the drill target, and MAHLI and Mastcam will image the areas where different portions of a drill sample could be dumped both before and after sample delivery to SAM and CheMin. Then, drilling commences. Once the drill hole is created, ChemCam will image the hole with its RMI to set up for shooting the laser down the drill hole in subsequent sols, and Mastcam and Navcam will image the post-drill workspace.

The engineers have worked incredibly hard to invent a new way to use the drill, as highlighted in this recent story. Their ability to work around the problem from afar and give us another chance at drilling is very much in the spirit of NASA's engineers designing fixes to the systems of Apollo 13 as the spacecraft hurtled, crippled, to the Moon. Although the stakes are different for MSL, the ingenuity is the same. The science team has been wondering what minerals might be responsible for the layers, veins and nodules in the Blunts Point rocks. A successful drill will mark the first step in answering that mystery. Suffice it to say, the whole MSL team - scientists and engineers - will be waiting with bated breath for the data that reveal if the drilling was successful. Success will feel very much like *finally* getting to open that shiny birthday present after a long, enticing wait!

Good luck, Curiosity!

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/proj/msl/redops/ods/surface/sol/02059/opgs/edr/fcam/FRB_580289858EDR_F0701752FHAZ00337M_-br2.jpg)

Apparently drilling has begun!

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/02058/mcam/2058ML0109120010800921E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/02058/mcam/2058MR0109120010903656E02_DXXX-br2.jpg)

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on October 30, 2018, 10:22:37 AM
Drill site before and after a wind event...  8)


Before wind...
(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/02171/mcam/2171MR0116930010105700E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)

After wind...

(https://mars.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/02211/mcam/2211MR0117290010105795E01_DXXX-br2.jpg)
Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 04, 2019, 08:29:24 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/T1SL0NnXRW0

Title: Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
Post by: Snufflee on June 04, 2019, 08:41:35 AM
Amazing stuff, thanks for the update.