THEMIS: Channel – false color

Cimmeria channel (THEMIS_IOTD_20150525)THEMIS Image of the Day, May 25, 2015. The THEMIS VIS camera contains 5 filters. The data from different filters can be combined in multiple ways to create a false color image. These false color images may reveal subtle variations of the surface not easily identified in a single band image. Today’s false color image shows part of an unnamed channel in Terra Cimmeria.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: ‘Long weekend at Marias Pass’

NLB_485560450EDR_F0481194NCAM00272M_Sol 993-996, May 22, 2015, update from USGS scientist 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… [More at link]

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Curiosity: Taking a look around

922-southSol 922, May 22, 2015. Curiosity’s Navcam took a look around when the rover reached the edge of Marias Pass, the saddle seen at center in the image above. The view looks south toward Mt. Sharp (seen faintly at left), the view below looks north over the badlands the rover drivers have carefully avoided. The two pan images slightly overlap at right (above) and left (below). Both images enlarge into new browser windows or tabs when clicked.

Sol 992 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

992-north

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Curiosity picks new route

PIA19662_ipNASA’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… [More at link]

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ChemCam gets sharper autofocus

pia19661-16Tests on Mars have confirmed success of a repair to the autonomous focusing capability of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. This instrument provides information about the chemical composition of targets by zapping them with laser pulses and taking spectrometer readings of the induced sparks. It also takes detailed images through a telescope.

Work by the instrument’s team members at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and in France has yielded an alternative auto-focus method following loss of use of a small laser that served for focusing the instrument during Curiosity’s first two years on Mars.

“Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind,” said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. “The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus.” [More at link]

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THEMIS: Mangala Fossae

Rift in Mangala Fossae (THEMIS_IOTD_20150522)THEMIS Image of the Day, May 22, 2015. The linear wall at the bottom of this VIS image is a fault. The linear depression caused by faulting is part of a long depression called Mangala Fossae.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: ‘Marias Pass’

NLB_485471647EDR_F0481146NCAM00270M_Sol 992, May 21, 2015, update from USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: Curiosity conquered the hill on Sol 991, and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Marias Pass.  The 22 m drive on Sol 991 brings our total odometry to 10,556 m. In today’s plan, Curiosity will acquire ChemCam and Mastcam observations on the targets “Elk” and “Bull” to characterize the bright bedrock and a nearby boulder.  We’ll also take several Mastcam mosaics to document the local stratigraphy.  After a short drive we’ll acquire… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Alluvial fans in Mojave Crater

ESP_040618_1875Stereo data from an anaglyph (or 3D) image shows that the landscape in this observation is pervasively eroded, right up to the tops of the ridges, with channels extending down into depositional fans much like alluvial fans in the Mojave Desert. This can be explained by something like rainfall, but this crater is geologically young, only a few hundred million years old, when Mars’ atmosphere was thought to be too depleted to support rainfall. From the surrounding region we can see that only the Mojave ejecta is eroded, not adjacent landscapes. This suggests that the ejecta landed wet and itself initiated the erosion, rather than rainfall from clouds.

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Curiosity: Driving up

991-driving-upSol 991, May 21, 2015. As Curiosity’s rover drivers seek to avoid soft ground, they decided to head uphill — for firmer ground, better looks at an interesting outcrop, and a look-see at the surrounding terrain. The lower slopes of Mt. Sharp are glimpsed in the far distance at left. (Click the Navcam image above to load a larger version in a new browser window.)

Sol 991 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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Mars crater commemorates pioneering flight

PIA19394_fig1(Click on the image to open a larger version in a new browser window.)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is studying an elongated crater called “Spirit of St. Louis” and a rock spire called “Lindbergh Mound” within the crater. The crater and several features in and near it are shown in a recent image from Opportunity’s panoramic camera (Pancam).

Throughout Opportunity’s 11-plus years on Mars, the science team for the rover has picked crater names from a list of “vessels of exploration,” including ships, spacecraft and aircraft. The names informally assigned for this crater and features in it refer to Charles Lindbergh’s May 1927 flight from New York to Paris in the airplane he named Spirit of St. Louis, the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis help lead the Opportunity mission. A news release from the university describes the connection between St. Louis and Lindbergh, at: https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/St.Louis-crater.aspx  [More at links]

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HRSC: Impact crater or supervolcano caldera?

Perspective_view_of_Siloe_PateraAt first glance, the region covered by this latest Mars Express image release appears to be pockmarked with impact craters. But the largest structure among them may hold a rather explosive secret: it could be remains of an ancient supervolcano. The images presented here were taken by the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express on 26 November 2014, and focus on the Siloe Patera feature in the Arabia Terra region of Mars. Siloe Patera comprises two large nested craters, close to the centre of the main colour image. The outer rim measures about 40 x 30 km and, at its deepest point, the crater dips as low as 1750 m below the surrounding plains. Some scientists believe that Siloe Patera and a number of similar features in Arabia Terra are calderas, the collapsed centres of volcanoes. But not just any volcanoes: these are thought to be martian supervolcanoes…. [More at link]

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Curiosity update: ‘Taking the high road’

NLB_485387242EDR_S0480876NCAM00268M_Sol 991, May 20, 2015, update from USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: After assessing a few different drive paths to deal with the challenging terrain, the team decided to drive uphill to avoid crossing the ripples near Jocko Butte.  On Sol 990, Curiosity drove 52 m back towards Mt. Shields, which puts our total odometry at 10,556 m. The goal of today’s plan is to climb uphill towards an interesting geologic contact. It’s the same contact that we would have seen in Logan Pass, but the path through “Marias Pass” looks a little bit shorter.  Today’s plan also includes ChemCam and Mastcam observations of… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Seasonal flows in Asimov Crater

ESP_040485_1330Seasonal flows called recurring slope lineae (RSL) grow down warm slopes in the summer, fade when they become inactive, then re-form the following year when the slopes warm up again from the Sun. We see many of these RSL over the steep equator-facing slopes of the troughs within Asimov Crater, as illustrated in this cutout. However, just a few days later HiRISE imaged another steep equator-facing slope in Asimov crater, and no RSL are visible at all (ESP_040551_1330). These two slopes are very similar in slope angle, rockiness, and other properties seen by… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Crater dunes

Active dune field in a crater (THEMIS_IOTD_20150521)THEMIS Image of the Day, May 21, 2015. Today’s VIS image shows dunes on the floor of an unnamed crater in Noachis Terra.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Spiders

tumblr_nontowlL5E1rlz4gso1_1280Not so itsy, not so bitsy: “Spider formations” are made by the process of sublimation, when a solid (carbon dioxide ice) transforms directly into a gas.

Beautiful Mars series.

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