Curiosity update: ‘Stimson is stunning’

1085ML0047660020206932E01_DXXXSol 1089-1090, August 28, 2015, update from USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: Curiosity is currently making her way through some beautiful exposures of the Stimson unit.  The 6 m drive on Sol 1087 went well, and Curiosity is in a good position for possible contact science early next week.

Today we’re planning 2-sols for the weekend (Sunday is a “soliday” to allow Earth and Mars schedules to sync back up).  One of the main activities on Sol 1089 is dropping off part of the Buckskin drill sample to SAM.  Then we’ll dump the Buckskin post-sieve sample, and analyze it with APXS.  The plan also includes Mastcam and MAHLI imaging to document the dump pile. [More at link]

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Curiosity: Loomings

1087-aeolis-monsSol 1087, August 28, 2015. Mount Sharp rises above a low rocky ridge lying near the rover in a four-frame Navcam composite. The rocks of the ridge look like cross-bedded sandstones. Click to enlarge.

Sol 1087 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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THEMIS: Galaxias Fossae

Rifts of Galaxias Fossae (THEMIS_IOTD_20150828)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 28, 2015. The linear depression in today’s VIS image is part of Galaxias Fossae.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: With enough time, the sand will devour all

tumblr_ntkki6W4lp1rlz4gso1_1280With enough time, the sand will devour all. Sand dunes are among the most widespread wind-driven features present on Mars.

Beautiful Mars series.

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Opportunity: MI on Pvt. Robert Frazer6

4120-MISol 4120, August 27, 2015. After the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) removed the surface layer on Pvt. Robert Frazer6, Opportunity’s Microscopic Imager moved in for a close-up view. The image at right is a four-frame composite. Click to enlarge.

Pvt. Robert Frazer is the name of an outcrop on Marathon Valley’s floor. Each separate target on the outcrop receives a sequential ID number, hence Pvt. Robert Frazer6.

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

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Terraced craters point to subsurface ice sheets

21jyoow_0Just beneath the planet’s dirt surface, University of Arizona researchers found an enormous slab of water ice, measuring 130 feet thick and covering an area equivalent to that of California and Texas combined.

It was a “crazy-looking crater” on the face of Mars that caught Ali Bramson’s eye. But it was a simple calculation that explained the crater’s strange shape. Combining data gleaned from two powerful instruments aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, Bramson and her colleagues determined why the crater is terraced — not bowl shaped, like most craters of this size.

“Craters should be bowl shaped, but this one had terraces in the wall,” says Bramson, a graduate student in the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, or LPL.

[The research was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.]

“When the crater is forming, the shock wave from an object hitting a planet’s surface propagates differently depending on what substrates are beneath the area of impact,” Bramson says. “If you have a weaker material in one layer, the shock wave can push out that material more easily, and the result is terracing at the interface between the weaker and stronger materials.” [More at links]

bramson-terraced-craters

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HiRISE: Nowhere to run, much less to hide

tumblr_ntkkditIhK1rlz4gso1_1280Nowhere to run, much less to hide. Clusters of secondary impact craters.

Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Ravius Valles

Ravius Valles on slopes of Alba Mons (THEMIS_IOTD_20150827)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 27, 2015. Today’s VIS image shows part of Ravius Valles, located on the northern flank of Alba Mons.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: ‘Bright features’

NRB_493826420EDR_F0491798NCAM00254M_Sol 1087-1088, August 26, 2015, update from USGS scientist Ken Herkenhoff: The complex, nearly 39-meter Sol 1085 drive completed successfully, leaving the rover in another target-rich area.  Again, I helped pick targets for ChemCam observations–our favorites were on the brighter parts of the outcrop just south of the rover.  The targets for ChemCam and Mastcam observations were named “Fitzpatrick,” “Keith,” and “Fred and George Creek.”  Mastcam will also acquire 2 mosaics before the rover… [More at link]

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MARCI weather report, August 17-23, 2015

releaseimg_150817_150823Several arcuate shaped storms were observed along the receding seasonal north polar cap edge this past week on Mars. One dust cloud generated by a storm was transported northward across the perennial north polar cap. At southern mid-latitudes, sporadic dust-lifting events occurred in Sirenum, Aonia, Noachis, Promethei, and Cimmeria. Further equator-ward… [More at link]

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Opportunity field report: August 26, 2015

05_4098-4120_NavPanmos_copySol 4119, August 26, 2015; Rover Field Report by Larry Crumpler, MER Science Team & New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science: Opportunity is moving down into a large valley that cuts through the rim of Endeavor crater. The valley is somewhat like a chute directed  into the crater floor, which is  a long ways below. So it is somewhat scary, but also pretty interesting scenery….

Of course the whole point of the investigation is the fact that alteration like the type we are seeing requires a lot of water and we want to know when it was there and how it moved through the rocks. Then we can get a better idea of how water may have played a role in the environment on early Mars. The crater rim is very eroded, so there was water all right. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Monitoring the south polar residual cap

tumblr_ntkk04BrLO1rlz4gso1_1280That distant polar shore. Monitoring the south polar residual cap.

Beautiful Mars series.

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Opportunity: South wall of Marathon Valley

4119-pancamSESol 4119, August 26, 2015. The rover Pancam shot a multi-filtered set of images looking southeast from near the head of Marathon Valley. The images, processed into a false-color composite by Holger Isenberg, show the valley bottom and south wall in the foreground, the southern part of Endeavour Crater’s floor beyond, a few of the dunes found there (dark patches), the crater’s rim, and the horizon outside. (Click to enlarge.)

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

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THEMIS: Ejecta lobes

Debris ejected from impact crater (THEMIS_IOTD_20150826)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 26, 2015. Today’s VIS image of an unnamed crater in Terra Sirenum shows crater ejecta.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Polygons in an impact crater

tumblr_ntkjvuDsYK1rlz4gso1_1280The Slayer Time, Ancient of Days, come hither to consume. Polygons in an impact crater.

Beautiful Mars series.

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