Author Topic: Mars Rover Curiosity  (Read 75681 times)

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #90 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.

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

Jason

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #91 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.

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #92 on: September 26, 2013, 08:24:42 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/-A9lNVCgb3w" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/-A9lNVCgb3w</a>

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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #93 on: October 25, 2013, 11:09:53 AM »


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.
 



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.

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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #94 on: December 10, 2013, 07:17:11 AM »
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24724-surprisingly-youthful-mars-surface-helps-alien-hunt.html?full=true

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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #95 on: February 19, 2014, 12:34:36 PM »


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


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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #96 on: March 28, 2014, 08:34:55 AM »
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1614

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

Differential Erosion at Work on Martian Sandstones

Quote


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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #97 on: March 28, 2014, 08:38:05 AM »


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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #98 on: April 25, 2014, 01:55:22 PM »
Showing some wear and tear...  look closely...  8)





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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #99 on: May 07, 2014, 02:42:00 PM »


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

BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #100 on: May 07, 2014, 02:45:00 PM »


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

spuwho

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #101 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.


BridgeTroll

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #102 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 ...
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #103 on: May 20, 2014, 10:57:26 AM »

Quote

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.


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

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Re: Mars Rover Curiosity
« Reply #104 on: June 26, 2014, 02:51:06 PM »
Quote
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.
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."