Curiosity update: ‘Hidden Valley’

Sol 705, July 30, 2014, update on Curiosity from MSL Scientist Lauren Edgar: “Today we are planning Sol 705, and Curiosity is just about to drive down from the Zabriskie Plateau into Hidden Valley, where the terrain should be much….” [More at link]

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MAVEN status update: July 31, 2014

MAVEN_location_073114MAVEN continues on a smooth journey to Mars. All spacecraft and instrument systems are operating nominally… At the end of this month, we went into a “pre-Mars Orbit Insertion moratorium.” All systems required for a safe Mars Orbit Insertion remain powered on. But other systems like the instruments are shut down until late September because they are not needed for a successful MOI [on September 21]…. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Intracrater dune changes

tumblr_n9g2lkFIYN1rlz4gso1_1280Intracrater dune changes. Beautiful Mars series.

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HiRISE: Appointment in Samara (Valles)

tumblr_n9i0b8eB671rlz4gso1_1280Appointment in Samara (Valles). Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity: Sol 705, July 31, 2014

NRB_460082918EDR_F0391918NCAM00391M_A Garden of Layered Rocks, at the mouth of Hidden Valley.

NASA description: This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 705 (2014-07-31 13:00:36 UTC).

Sol 705 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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Opportunity field report: July 30, 2014

traverse_EndeavourSol 3737 (July 30, 2014) Rover Field Report by Larry Crumpler, MER Science Team & New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science: “…In the last couple of weeks since the last posting here, Opportunity finished the long slow drive across the ridge where we were looking for outcrop evidence of altered outcrops. At the end of that ridge it dropped down several meters to a saddle in the rim with a quick look back…. Then the drive continued southward with the goal of eventually getting to the base of the next rim segment, Cape Tribulation. This will be a serious climb…” [More at link]

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Curiosity: Sol 705, July 31, 2014

705-valley-panHidden Valley: next gateway to Mount Sharp (Navcam three-frame composite).

NASA description (middle frame): This image was taken by Navcam: Right B (NAV_RIGHT_B) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 705 (2014-07-31 13:39:47 UTC).

Sol 705 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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HiRISE: Layers and sand in Schiaparelli Crater

ESP_037161_1785Schiaparelli Crater is a 460 kilometer (286 mile) wide multi-ring structure. However, it is a very shallow crater, apparently filled by younger materials such as lava and/or fluvial and aeolian sediments. Most of the floor is covered by a thin layer of dust, but in places where there are patches of dark sand, there is also well-exposed bedrock… [More at link]

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Mars 2020 rover payload selected

M2020-300The next rover NASA will send to Mars in 2020 will carry seven carefully-selected instruments to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet… [These will] conduct geological assessments of the rover’s landing site, determine the potential habitability of the environment, and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life…

The selected instruments are:

Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. The instrument also will determine mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations. The principal investigator is James Bell, Arizona State University in Phoenix.

SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. The principal investigator is Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. This instrument also has a significant contribution from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales,Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Plane’tologie (CNES/IRAP) France.

Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. PIXL will provide capabilities that permit more detailed detection and analysis of chemical elements than ever before. The principal investigator is Abigail Allwood, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), a spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload. The principal investigator is Luther Beegle, JPL.

• The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. The principal investigator is Michael Hecht, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape. The principal investigator is Jose Rodriguez-Manfredi, Centro de Astrobiologia, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, Spain.

Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface. The principal investigator is Svein-Erik Hamran, Forsvarets Forskning Institute, Norway.

[More at link]

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HiRISE: Preserving ice from a vanished terrain

ESP_036815_2330This HiRISE image shows what is termed a pedestal crater, so-called because the level of the surface adjacent to the crater is elevated relative to the surface of the surrounding terrain. The raised surface has patterns and a general outline resembling what ejecta would look like after being thrown out from the crater by the impact. This impact probably occurred… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Cyane Fossae

Pit craters in Cyane Fossae (THEMIS_IOTD_20140731)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 31, 2014. The linear feature in this image is part of Cyane Fossae. The circular collapse features are bounded by linear faults.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Frosty gullies

ESP_037137_1360HiRISE monitoring has shown that gully formation on Mars occurs in winter and early spring in times and places with frost on the ground. This image was acquired in late winter, and the frost or ice (visible as white areas) persists only on the south-facing slopes that have received little direct sunlight to this date…. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Water-bearing rocks in Noctis Labyrinthus

ESP_036598_1735The bright rocks in this image have minerals that contain water. These water-bearing minerals are found using the companion instrument on the MRO spacecraft called CRISM. By combining the spectral data from the CRISM instrument with the high resolution visible images taken by HiRISE, scientists are able to speculate how water deposited and/or altered these rocks… [More at link]

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MARCI weather report: July 21-27, 2014

releaseimg_140721_140727Regional scale dust lifting was observed in both hemispheres this week. In the north, storms continued to occur at mid- to polar latitudes for much of the week with occasional frontal storms observed north of Tempe. In the south persistent and widespread dust lifting occurred in… [More at link, including video]

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Curiosity: Sol 703, July 29, 2014

Valley viewMastcam’s wide-angle imager looks down into Hidden Valley, examining sand ripples in a five-frame composite. In the distance at center, the valley branches left and right. HiRISE imagery from orbit shows the left branch leads down to a large field of dunes, possibly active. The right branch provides a tortuous (though likely more driveable) route onward toward Mount Sharp through connecting shallow valleys.

Sol 703 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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