Curiosity: Rocks and sand rise toward the ridge

1739-navcamSol 1739, June 28, 2017. Curiosity’s Navcam has captured the ground leading up to Vera Rubin Ridge and also Mt. Sharp rising in the distance behind. The rover is driving eastward, perhaps to go around the sand patch seen at left. Mission controllers are maneuvering the rover toward a place where it can easily drive up onto the ridge. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Sol 1739 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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HiRISE: ‘Elementary, my dear deposit…’

ESP_050250_1435Just like Earth, Mars experiences seasons that change as the planet orbits the Sun. Seasonal changes are most apparent at the higher latitudes. As these regions in each hemisphere enter their respective summer seasons, the sun rises higher in the Martian sky causing frost and ice to sublimate, and illuminate more features across the landscape. As the high latitudes of each hemisphere move toward their respective winters, the days (called “sols”) grow shorter and the sun hangs low on the horizon, giving rise to prolonged periods of cold, darkness, and frost accumulation… [More at link]

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Trace Gas Orbiter: Aerobraking suspended

ExoMars_Trace_Gas_Orbiter-640On 25 June, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) will suspend its aerobraking campaign until the end of August due to Mars’ conjunction with the Sun.

With Mars behind the Sun, TGO’s communication with Earth will be difficult, and so the spacecraft orbit will be raised safely out of the atmosphere. The orbiter is now on an aerobraking campaign, exploiting the resistance of the Martian atmosphere on the spacecraft to slow itself down and lower its orbit with minimal fuel consumption.

(…) The Martian atmosphere is highly variable and this variability makes it impossible to plan ahead for more than a handful of orbits; so, during the conjunction period, the spacecraft is being taken out of aerobraking and placed into a safe orbit where the atmosphere won’t disturb it. TGO’s descent will resume after the end of conjunction…. [More at link]

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MARCI weather report, June 19-25, 2017

MARCI-June-22-2017Dust-raising activity persevered along the edge of the seasonal north polar ice cap this past week. While the majority of the storms were small in scale, more extensive storm fronts were spotted over Utopia Planitia towards the end of the week. Meanwhile, on the other side of the red planet, dust storms continued over the southern highlands near the developing south polar hood. During the middle of the week, active… [More at link, including video]

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HiRISE; Exposed bedrock, Koval’sky impact basin

ESP_050314_1510This image shows partially exposed bedrock within the Koval’sky impact basin, which is on the outskirts of the extensive lava field of Daedalia Planum. Daedalia Planum is located southwest of Arsia Mons, which may be the source responsible for filling the crater with lava flows and ash deposits.

On one side, we see bright bedrock with scattered dark blue spots. The dark blue spots are boulders shedding from the outcrops. The color range of the bedrock provides some information on its composition. The blue color is indicative of the presence of iron-rich minerals that are generally not oxidized (i.e., rusted), unlike most of the ruddy Martian surface. Volcanic rocks are… [More at link]

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THEMIS: North polar ice cap troughs and layers

North polar ice cap layers THEMIS Art #135 (THEMIS_IOTD_20170628)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 28, 2017. Do you see what I do? Looks like a person’s profile at the bottom of this image. (THEMIS Art #135)

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: More touch and go on the way to Vera Rubin Ridge

1732ML0090520020701709E01_DXXX-br2Sol 17339-40, June 26, 2017, update by MSL scientists Abigail Fraeman: This past weekend, Curiosity continued to journey east along the contact between the lower portion of Vera Rubin Ridge and the Murray formation with a drive that was a little over 20 m long. Today we worked on planning two sols, Sol 1739 and Sol 1740. On the first sol, we will take MAHLI and APXS observations of a target named “Rice Point” in our continuing quest to characterize the variability of typical Murray bedrock as we ascend Mt. Sharp. We will also take some remote sensing observations to document changes in texture and chemistry of the rocks in front of us, as well as some nearby sand. We have ChemCam LIBS observations of targets named “Hamilton Pond,” “Whalesback,” and Rice Point… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Mojave Crater far-flung impact ejecta

tumblr_oqbn0wSBHL1rlz4gso2_1280Distal reaches of Mojave Crater impact ejecta. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Lava channel on Hecates Tholus

Lava channel on Hecates Tholus THEMIS Art #134 (THEMIS_IOTD_20170627)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 27, 2017. Do you see what I see? Is that a snake slithering down the image? (THEMIS Art #134)

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: The Niagara Falls of Mars

ESP_050406_1585Various researchers are often pre-occupied with the quest for flowing water on Mars. However, in this image, we see one of many examples from Mars where lava (when it was molten) behaved in a similar fashion to liquid water.

In a 3D image from the Context Camera, we can see the northern rim of a 30-kilometer diameter crater situated in the western part of the Tharsis volcanic province. (See our own 3D image as well.) The image shows that a lava flow coming from the north-northeast surrounded the crater rim, and rose to such levels that it breached the crater rim at four locations to produce… [More at link]

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