Curiosity update: ‘MAHLI wheel imaging’

NLB_482725854EDR_S0461676NCAM00431M_Sol 962, April 20, 2015, update from USGS scientist Ken Herkenhoff: The Sol 960 drive went as planned, for a total of over 102 meters!  The rover has driven far enough since the last full set of MAHLI images were acquired that it’s time to take another full set to look for more wheel wear.  So my focus today as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead was on planning wheel images.  MARDI images are typically taken at each wheel-imaging position as well, but all of these images were well planned strategically, so it was an easy day for me.  Wheel images will be taken at 4 spots, separated by short drives to ensure that all of the wheel surfaces can be examined.  This takes enough time that there wasn’t much room for other observations:  Sol 962 begins with… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Tikhov Crater — false color

Tikhov Crater — false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20150421)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 21, 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 a crater and its ejecta on the floor of the much larger Tikhov Crater.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Opportunity: Gravel in view

3993-gravelSol 3993, April 18, 2015. At an outcrop site dubbed Thermopylae, Opportunity’s Microscopic Imager assembles a four-frame mosaic focused on the gravel in front of the rover. (Click the image to load a larger version in a new tab.)

Opportunity raw images, its latest mission status, a location map. and atmospheric opacity, known as tau.

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Curiosity update: ‘Daughter of the Sun’

NLB_482545588EDR_S0461162NCAM00297M_-br2Sol 959-961, April 17, 2015, update from USGS scientist Ryan Anderson: The short drive on sol 958 was a success, placing us at the top of a small ridge, facing an outcrop dubbed “Daughter of the Sun”. The plan for sol 959 is to do some ChemCam and Mastcam of targets “Gold” and “Espinoza”, followed by several Mastcam mosaics. The biggest mosaic will be a 26×2 stereo mosaic looking toward Logan Pass. We also have a 7×3 stereo mosaic of “Daughter of the Sun” and a 17×1 mosaic of “West Ridge”.

On sol 960 we will do a long drive after which DAN will make some measurements and we will take our standard post-drive images. Then on sol 961 ChemCam will take some calibration measurements and then Mastcam and Navcam will make several atmospheric observations… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Noachis Terra — false color

Crater floor in Noachis Terra (THEMIS_IOTD_20140420)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 20, 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 show part of the floor of an unnamed crater in Noachis Terra.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Ares 3 landing site: ‘The Martian’ revisited

ESP_040776_2115We previously released an image near the Ares 3 landing site from [the novel] The Martian by Andy Weir. Andy then sent us the exact coordinates, which we targeted, and this is it.

The closeup shows some wind-blown deposits inside eroded craters. We can’t see the Ares 3 habitat because it arrives sometime in the future, so this is the “before” image. The dark areas appear bluish in HiRISE color but would appear grey to humans on the surface, or maybe a bit reddish when the air is dusty.

Ares 3’s 6-meter-diameter habitat would be just 20 pixels across at this scale, about 1/10th the diameter of the largest crater in the central cluster. If protagonist Mark Watney were laying flat on the surface, he would be 6 pixels tall. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Daedalia Planum lava flow

tumblr_nmx57wDACB1rlz4gso1_1280Daedalia Planum lava flow. Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity update: ‘Officially 10k!’

mars-rover-curiosity-msl-traverse-map-10k-drive-Sol957-PIA18390-br2Sol 958, April 16, 2015, update from USGS scientist Ryan Anderson: The Sol 957 drive went well, and the rover has officially driven 10 kilometers! (Last week I announced that we had reached 10k, but that was 10k measured by how many times the wheels have spun, not how far across the surface of Mars the rover has gone. Now, no matter how you measure it, we’ve gone 10,000 meters!).

Unfortunately, we stopped with a ridge in front of us, blocking the view. So the plan for sol 958 is to do a short drive to get on top of the ridge so we can see farther to the south, allowing us to plan more effectively for future drives (and enjoy the scenery). Before the drive, we have some ChemCam passive observations of the sky to measure the composition of the atmosphere. There is also a Mastcam mosaic of an outcrop to the east, plus a high-resolution Mastcam observation of the target “Libby”. [More at links]

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Three newly named Mars features

Greeley CraterFrom the Astrogeology Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey: The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved names for three features on Mars: Badwater crater, Greeley crater, and Syria Colles. For more information, see the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. [The Gazetteer provides images and links to the features' Mars quadrangle maps.]

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Curiosity making tracks and observations

mars-rover-curiosity-msl-panoramic-terrain-drive-10k-sol957-PIA19391-br2NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is continuing science observations while on the move this month. On April 16, the mission passed 10 kilometers (6.214 miles) of total driving since its 2012 landing, including about a fifth of a mile (310 meters) so far this month.

The rover is trekking through a series of shallow valleys between the “Pahrump Hills” outcrop, which it investigated for six months, and the next science destination, “Logan Pass,” which is still about 200 yards, or meters, ahead toward the southwest.

“We’ve not only been making tracks, but also making important observations to characterize rocks we’re passing, and some farther to the south at selected viewpoints,” said John Grant of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington. Grant is a Curiosity science team member who has been the team’s long-term planner in recent days. [More at link; click image to open larger version in a new browser tab]

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MARCI weather report: April 6-12, 2015

releaseimg_150406_150412The extensive diffuse dust cloud that has been observed over the southern high latitudes, during the past few weeks, began to dissipate. In the northern hemisphere, the seasonal polar ice cap was visible over the northern plains as far south as 55° latitude. Transient local dust storms developed along the cap edge over Deuteronilus… [More at link, including video]

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THEMIS: Cavi Angusti

Polar layers and ridges in Cavi Angusti (THEMIS_IOTD_20150417)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 17, 2015. This VIS image shows layering and linear ridges in Cavi Angusti. This region is near the south polar cap.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Possible phyllosilicates in a butte remnant

tumblr_nmt9dc8vlo1rlz4gso1_1280Possible phyllosilicates in a butte remnant. Beautiful Mars series.

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HiRISE: Slope spyin’ in Rabe Crater

tumblr_nmv0f5L2rH1rlz4gso2_1280Slope spyin’ in Rabe Crater. Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity: Along the valley way

957-ADSol 957, April 16, 2015. Three left-side Navcam frames combine to detail Curiosity’s course ahead, as it traverses through Artist’s Drive. (Click on the image above to open a larger version in a new browser tab.)

FRB_482457711EDR_F0460934FHAZ00304M_Taken at almost the same time, one of the front Hazcams (left) shows dune ripples from close up.

Sol 957 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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