ExoMars rover: Moving on Mars

The ExoMars mission will see Rosalind Franklin the rover and its surface platform Kazachok land on the Red Planet in 2021. From fine-grained soil to large boulders and slopes, the rover has to be able to move across many types of terrain, collect samples with a 2 m-long drill and analyse them with instruments in its onboard laboratory.

This second episode about ExoMars features the challenges of leaving the surface platform, overcoming obstacles and walking on dunes.

ESA, Roscosmos, Thales, Airbus and RUAG engineers put a full-sized model through a series of tests to fine-tune how the rover will move from its landing platform onto the martian terrain… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Before Jezero

ESP_055036_1655Before Jezero. Before Jezero Crater was selected as the landing site for the Mars 2020 mission, this area in Gusev Crater was in the running. The terrain here is very different from nearby Columbia Hills (location of the Spirit rover), and is littered with small, light-toned plateaus and hills.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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THEMIS: Nili Fossae graben

Nili Fossae graben (THEMIS_IOTD_20190816)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 16, 2019. The two linear depressions in this VIS image are part of the Nili Fossae fracture system.

Nili Fossae is the name of a collection of curved faults and down-dropped blocks of crust between the faults (called graben). The grabens lie northeast of the large volcano Syrtis Major and northwest of the ancient impact basin Isidis.

The grabens make concentric curves that follow the outline of Isidis Planitia. The faults likely formed as the crust sagged under the weight of lava flows filling Isidis.

Explore more THEMIS Images of the Day by geological subject.

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Curiosity update: SAM is GO for analyzing the Glen Etive drill sample

NRB_618994355EDR_F0763002NCAM00556M_-br2Sols 2497-98, August 12, 2019, update by MSL engineer Ashley Stroupe: This morning, after seeing that the redo of the SAM Preconditioning in Monday’s plan was successful, the SAM team was ready to drop-off four portions to SAM for evolved gas analysis. The power demands of SAM left little room for other activities on the first sol of the plan, but we were able to fit in some additional science on the second sol. In the afternoon of sol 2498, we’ll be doing targeted science, including Mastcam and ChemCam, of the targets “Liberton” and “Torberg” to get… [More at link]

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Latest weather at Gale Crater and Elysium Planitia

Daily Elysium charts and data (temperature, wind speed, atmospheric pressure) here.

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Curiosty: On the outcrop

FRB_619083201EDR_F0763002FHAZ00341M_Sol 2496, August 14, 2019. Curiosity’s front and rear Hazcams show the rover remains parked at the outcrop, with the Glen Etive drill hole and conical tailings pile visible on the flat rock in the upper center of the front view (right).

Below is the view to the rear, showing the rover’s tracksin the background as it drove around to climb on top of the outcrop. Click either image to enlarge it.

RRB_619083235EDR_F0763002RHAZ00341M_Sol 2496 raw images (from all cameras).

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HiRISE: Slope monitoring on Ganges Mensa

ESP_055031_1720Slope monitoring on Ganges Mensa. An existing stereo pair shows dark lineations that look very much like recurring slope lineae, but did not exhibit any observed growth within a 1-month interval of the stereo pair, unlike RSL. This picture is to look for changes, once at the same season and once in another season when RSL are known to be active.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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Mars 2020 rover gets its toolkit

PIA23319_hiresThe bit carousel – a mechanism that will play a key role in the acquisition, containment and eventual return to Earth of humanity’s first samples from another planet – has been incorporated into NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.

“The bit carousel is at the heart of the sampling and caching subsystem,” said Keith Rosette, Mars 2020 sample handling delivery manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “It contains all of the tools the coring drill uses to sample the Martian surface and is the gateway for the samples to move into the rover for assessment and processing.”

Looking somewhat like an extraterrestrial version of a 1960s slide projector, Mars 2020′s bit carousel is home to nine drill bits that facilitate sample acquisition and surface analysis: two for abrading, one for regolith (rock and soil) and six for coring. The coring and regolith bits are used to place Martian samples in a clean sample collection tube, while the abrader bit is used to scrape the top layers of rocks to expose un-weathered surfaces for study… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Indus Vallis channel

Indus Vallis (THEMIS_IOTD_20190815)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 15, 2019. This VIS image shows a small section of Indus Vallis. Indus Vallis is located in northern Terra Sabaea.

Explore more THEMIS Images of the Day by geological subject.

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HiRISE: Meridiani layers

ESP_055029_1815Layers in a depression that are not depressing. Wherein we revel at the stratigraphic gorgeousness of a small area in Sinus Meridiani on the fourth planet from the Sun. Sinus Meridiani was named by the French astronomer Camille Flammarion in the late 1870s.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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