Curiosity: Rocky road ahead

733-NW-panSol 733, August 29, 2014. Looking toward the northwest with the Navcam (three-frame composite), across the plateau where Curiosity must go to reach a trafficable section of the valley network leading to Mount Sharp.

NASA description (middle frame): This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 733 (2014-08-29 08:42:11 UTC).

Sol 733 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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HiRISE: Ridge between two north polar scarps

tumblr_navr12paAJ1rlz4gso1_1280Ridge between two steep north polar interior scarps. Beautiful Mars series.

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Opportunity: Flash-memory reformat planned

pia18598-640An increasing frequency of computer resets on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has prompted the rover team to make plans to reformat the rover’s flash memory. The resets, including a dozen this month, interfere with the rover’s planned science activities, even though recovery from each incident is completed within a day or two… Individual cells within a flash memory sector can wear out from repeated use. Reformatting clears the memory while identifying bad cells and flagging them to be avoided… [More at link]

More details and context at Opportunity’s status report.

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HiRISE: Outcrops & strata near Meridiani Planum

tumblr_navr7yPt3H1rlz4gso2_1280Outcrops and strata near Meridiani Planum. Beautiful Mars series.

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HiRISE: Defrosting spots on Chasma Boreale dunes

tumblr_navrehyfZr1rlz4gso3_1280Defrosting spots on Chasma Boreale dunes in Chasma Boreale. Beautiful Mars series.

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CRISM: Mesospheric cloud above the Argyre Basin

CRISM_FeaturedImage_LMB2CAE_CompressedThis image shows a limb (meaning a view of the horizon) of the planet where the surface can be seen at the bottom with an orange tint, a cloud can be seen in the atmosphere, and space is seen above in black. In order to make these observations, the MRO spacecraft must pitch onto its side so CRISM no longer looks down at the surface, but instead out onto the horizon of the planet. This particular observation shows a carbon dioxide (CO2) ice cloud in the mesosphere (middle layer) of Mars’s very minimal atmosphere. Clouds start to form when the temperature becomes so cold that the CO2 is able to freeze from a gas to a solid. This cloud is between 50-90 km from the surface of the planet… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Dark slope streaks

Dark slope streaks in Terra Sabaea (THEMIS_IOTD_20140829)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 29, 2014. Today’s VIS image shows dark slope streaks in an unnamed crater in Terra Sabaea. These features are believed to be formed by material moving downslope, removing the dust cover and revealing darker material.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

 

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Curiosity update: ‘Multi-sol planning’

Sols 732-734, August 28, 2014, update from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: “Yesterday we did not receive as much data as expected, so could not drive as originally planned.  Therefore, the Sol 732 plan was dominated by targeted… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Flow in mesa valley in Protonilus Mensae

tumblr_navfe9rMRL1rlz4gso1_1280Flow leaving a mesa valley in Protonilus Mensae. Beautiful Mars series.

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HiRISE: Mantled terrain in southern mid-latitudes

ESP_037474_1380The mid-latitudes of Mars (about 30 to 60 degrees, north and south) are covered in ice-rich mantling deposits in varying states of degradation. This mantle is thought to be deposited as snow during periods when the angle of the tilt of Mars’ rotational axis — called obliquity — is much higher, which last happened around 10 million years ago…. [More at link]

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‘Black Beauty’ zircons record ancient Mars climate

140827131553-largeWas Mars — now a cold, dry place — once a warm, wet planet that sustained life? And if so, how long has it been cold and dry? … By analyzing the chemical clues locked inside an ancient Martian meteorite known as Black Beauty, Florida State University Professor Munir Humayun and an international research team are revealing the story of Mars’ ancient, and sometimes startling, climate history. The team’s most recent finding of a dramatic climate change appeared in Nature Geoscience[More at links]

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HiRISE: New crater near InSight landing site

ESP_037328_1845InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars in September 2016 to study its deep interior. InSight needs seismic signals, and one sure way to get them is from the impact of bolides onto Mars. InSight can detect large impacts that are far from the lander and smaller impacts that… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Weird crater

ESP_037237_1435This feature has a strange appearance, as if the crater has feet with toes sticking out of two sides. Let’s try to explain this. First, there was a highly oblique impact event, with the bolide (or meteorite) striking the ground while flying almost horizontally over the surface. Such oblique impacts tend to send ejecta in two directions to the sides of the bolide trajectory, rather than in all directions around the crater. However, there was ice near the surface… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Ares Vallis

Ares Valles flood channel (THEMIS_IOTD_20140828)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 28, 2014. This VIS image shows a portion of Ares Vallis.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Possible landing site for ExoMars rover

ESP_037030_1880One of the important roles of HiRISE is to take high resolution images of potential landing sites for future landing missions. This image is of an area called Aram Dorsum (also known by its old name, Oxia Palus) that has been suggested for the 2018/2020 ExoMars Rover, because it contains an ancient, exhumed alluvial system. Imaging is needed both to check for boulder fields and other obstacles, as well as checking the scientific justification for choosing a site… [More at link]

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