Curiosity: Path forward?

2089-navcamFRB_582938393EDR_F0710228FHAZ00302M_Sol 2089, June 22, 2018. The future course for Curiosity is to reclimb Vera Rubin Ridge and cross over it to resume the drive up Mt. Sharp. Meanwhile, under the loose rocks and sand, the rover faces the thin-bedded ridge sediments. Above, the Navcam view, and at right, the front Hazcam view. Both images enlarge when clicked.

Sol 2089 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HiRISE: Dune field in crater

tumblr_paqf4naXzW1rlz4gso2_1280Shadow dancing. Sometimes the less said about a picture, the better.

Beautiful Mars series. [More at links]

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THEMIS: Dark streaks on slopes — wet or dry?

Slope streaks in a crater (THEMIS_IOTD_20180622)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 22, 2018. Located on the rim of Chia Crater, this smaller crater contains a multitude of dark slope streaks.

These features are assumed to represent down slope movements of material, either a process that removes a dusty top later to reveal dark rocky material below, or one that darkens part of the slope due to surface or near surface flows of a briny volatile.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HiRISE: Erosional window into possible playa deposits

tumblr_paomd6uaW21rlz4gso2_1280An erosional window into possible playa deposits. This is within a large impact crater. Length of layers here might help determine it there is an alluvial or playa origin.

Beautiful Mars series. [More at links]

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curiosity update: A dusty day on Mars

2084ML0111020040801485E01_DXXX-br2Sols 2088-89, June 20, 2018, update by MSL scientist Mark Salvatore: Over the past week or so, Curiosity has experienced increasingly dusty conditions in Gale crater. Unlike her older cousin Opportunity on the other side of the planet, Curiosity is not solar powered and, therefore, doesn’t suffer from the same power issues resulting from the darkening skies that Opportunity does. That allows Curiosity to play more of an active role in monitoring this dust storm from the ground and collecting important information to help scientists understand the evolution of such a weather phenomenon. (…)

One really cool observation that will be made in today’s science plan is a ChemCam LIBS observation of… well… THIN AIR! The idea is to target the ChemCam laser into the dusty martian air. By observing the amount of dispersion of the laser pulse, the team will be able to make some really cool observations and estimations of atmospheric dust abundances. This is equivalent to shining a laser pointer into the sky during a foggy day, or in a dusty classroom. It’s a new tool available to Curiosity thanks to some really ingenious planning by the scientists and engineers, and today is the first day that we will make this observation, so stay tuned! [More at link]

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HiRISE: Nilosyrtis Mensae

tumblr_pamr9iaL0h1rlz4gso2_1280Let us now contemplate Nilosyrtis Mensae. There is a fault attached to a trough here; both have the same orientation. This image helps us to understand stress fields on Mars.

Beautiful Mars series. [More at links]

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curiosity: Dark skies make murky landscapes

2087-mastcam342087MR0111190000904089E01_DXXXSol 2087, June 20, 2018. The Mastcam (34mm lens) shot a six-frame profile of the ridge, revealing its layers — and the dim conditions at Gale Crater.

At right is another Mastcam shot of the Ambridge target, where the yellow box shows the location of the RMI close-up previously published.

Both images enlarge when clicked.

Sol 2087 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THEMIS: The bumpy hills of Arcadia Planitia

Bumpy hills of Arcadia Planitia (THEMIS_IOTD_20180621)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 21, 2018. The hills in this VIS image are part of mound located in Arcadia Plantia. Just west of these hills is a long region of grouped hills called Phlegra Montes.

The soft contours, rounded hills, and possible flow lines on the ground all suggest that a large amount of ice is buried beneath mantling material.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curiosity captures thickening haze as dust storm goes global

PIA22486A storm of tiny dust particles has engulfed much of Mars over the last two weeks and prompted NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations. But across the planet, NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been studying Martian soil at Gale Crater, is expected to remain largely unaffected by the dust. While Opportunity is powered by sunlight, which is blotted out by dust at its current location, Curiosity has a nuclear-powered battery that runs day and night.

The Martian dust storm has grown in size and is now officially a “planet-encircling” (or “global”) dust event.

Though Curiosity is on the other side of Mars from Opportunity, dust has steadily increased over it, more than doubling over the weekend. The sunlight-blocking haze, called “tau,” is now above 8.0 at Gale Crater — the highest tau the mission has ever recorded. Tau was last measured near 11 over Opportunity, thick enough that accurate measurements are no longer possible for Mars’ oldest active rover.

For NASA’s human scientists watching from the ground, Curiosity offers an unprecedented window to answer some questions. One of the biggest is: why do some Martian dust storms last for months and grow massive, while others stay small and last only a week?

“We don’t have any good idea,” says Scott D. Guzewich, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, leading Curiosity’s dust storm investigation.

Curiosity, he points out, plus a fleet of spacecraft in the orbit of Mars, will allow scientists for the first time to collect a wealth of dust information both from the surface and from space. The last storm of global magnitude that enveloped Mars was in 2007, five years before Curiosity landed there…. [More at link]

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curiosity update: Slippery slope

NLB_582684408EDR_F0710060NCAM00350M_-br2Sol 2087, June 19, 2018, update by MSL scientist Michelle Minitti: Curiosity pulled away from the “Duluth” site yesterday, but given the blocky nature of the “Blunts Point” member and the sand in between those blocks, she did not get far. The drive stopped after only ~8 m, so the rover planners will give it another try today, slightly rejiggering the drive planned yesterday to move among the rocks on the slope back up to the top of the “Vera Rubin Ridge.” The rover was left perched a bit awkwardly on a loose rock and some sand, so contact science was not possible before the drive. Instead, we shot “Ambridge” with ChemCam, a rock broken by the wheels on our drive down to Duluth. We previously acquired a Mastcam multispectral observation on Ambridge from our Duluth… [More at link]

Posted in Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment