Curiosity: Following the contact

1680-navcamCuriosity_Location_Sol1679-br2Sol 1680, April 28, 2017. Looking ahead with the Navcam shows that the rover is aimed to follow Murray Formation layers that run southeast towards Vera Rubin Ridge.

How steeply the layers dip into the ground is unclear, but this appears to be part of a spur of rock extending northwest from the ridge, as seen at right. (Click on the image above to enlarge it.)

Sol 1680 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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Opportunity: Mariner 4 Crater

1P546597937EFFCYIWP2580L5M1_L2L5L5L7L7Sol 4713, April 27, 2017. This is Mariner 4 Crater, a small impact feature, as imaged in false colors (Holger Isenberg) by Opportunity’s Pancam. More on its namesake spacecraft here. Click image to enlarge it.

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

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No-bake recipe for bricks from Mars soil

Microsoft Word - SciReports_Mars1a_v4Explorers planning to settle on Mars might be able to turn the planet’s red soil into bricks without needing to use an oven or additional ingredients. Instead, they would just need to apply pressure to compact the soil—the equivalent of a blow from a hammer.

These are the findings of a study published in Nature Scientific Reports on April 27, 2017. The study was authored by a team of engineers at the University of California San Diego and funded by NASA. The research is all the more important since Congress passed a bill, signed by President Donald Trump in March 2017, directing NASA to send a manned mission on Mars in 2033.

“The people who will go to Mars will be incredibly brave. They will be pioneers. And I would be honored to be their brick maker,” said Yu Qiao, a professor of structural engineering at UC San Diego and the study’s lead author. [More at links]

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THEMIS: What has filled Asimov Crater?

Asimov Crater in false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20170428)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 28, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of Asimov Crater. Asimov Crater is unique in that the crater floor has been completely filled with material to approximately the crater rim and then a series depressions have occurred near the crater rim.

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.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Gullies with color anomalies

ESP_013944_1345This is an oblique view of gully deposits from the steep slope of an impact crater.

The deposits with anomalous (bluish) colors may reveal very recent activity, not yet homogenized by dust deposition, or there may be sand preferentially trapped in some places to give this appearance. [More at link]

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Curiosity update: Another day of TAG

RLB_546462492EDR_F0622026RHAZ00311M_-br2Sol 1679, April 26, 2017, update by MSL scientist Abigail Fraeman: Our drive yestersol went as planned and added another 28.3 meters to Curiosity’s odometer. The science team was pleased to see that more interesting outcrop would be reachable by Curiosity’s arm from our new location, so we decided to plan contact science followed by an afternoon drive in the Sol 1679 plan. We call sols like this “Touch and Go” sols. Curiosity will be examining interesting color variations in the rock target “Maple Spring” using MAHLI and APXS. We also had a few minutes left in the morning to allow us to take ChemCam observations of Maple Spring that will complement our contact science observations. After the morning science, Curiosity will go for an afternoon drive, followed by some post-drive imaging… [More at link]

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Opportunity: Passing Orion Crater

4712-navcamSol 4712, April 26, 2017. Orion Crater is an old, rather degraded impact crater about 25 meters (82 feet) wide. Opportunity drove along its western edge on the way toward Perservence Valley.  The crater appears in the Navcam composite above as a broad, shallow depression on the right side of the image. Below, a four-frame Pancam false-color composite (by Holger Isenberg) shows that the crater’s interior is filled with relatively uniform material, while a ripple of brighter sand lies along the crater’s muted rim. Click either image to enlarge it.

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

4712-pancamFC

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HiRISE: Gully in Charitum Montes

tumblr_ookgnhbkD51rlz4gso1_1280A gully in Charitum Montes – Sounds like the title of an epic adventure novel.

Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Geo-chaos in Gorgonum

Gorgonum Chaos in false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20170427)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 27, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of Gorgonum Chaos, a place where subsurface ice melted, broke through to the surface, and drained away after undermining the ground along fractures.

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.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: A smooth planning day

NLB_546374136EDR_F0621776NCAM00375M_-br2Sol 1678, April 26, 2017, update by MSL scientist Ken Herkenhoff: This MSL drove another 33 meters on Sol 1677, and again is surrounded by rocky outcrops partly covered by dark sand. Although Rover Planner support was available for “touch and go” contact science, the GEO science theme group decided that the limited reachable outcrop did not warrant contact science, and that driving is the top priority for this plan. APXS data were successfully acquired on Sol 1677, so are not urgently needed in this new location. The plan for Sol 1678 therefore focuses on remote sensing, with ChemCam 10×1 rasters on “Hancock Point,” a darker exposure of bedrock, and “Crocker Mountain,” a more normal-looking bedrock exposure. Mastcam context imaging of these targets will be… [More at link]

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