HiRISE: Disrupted terrain in Elysium Planitia

tumblr_ojwi6i7kn61rlz4gso1_1280 Disrupted terrain in southern Elysium Planitia.

Beautiful Mars series.

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HRSC: Frost build-up near Mars north pole

Frost_build-up_near_Mars_north_pole_node_full_image_2This animated gif shows the build up of frosts in a 73 x 41 km section of the north polar ice cap of Mars between November and December 2004.

The images were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express during its first year at the Red Planet. It has been orbiting Mars for over 13 years.

The first image was taken on 23 November 2004 during orbit 1087, and the second of the same area on 30 December 2004, during orbit 1219. The images are centred at 79.94ºN / 44.11ºE. The interleaving frames in the gif are interpolated to give a smooth appearance.

The north polar icecap comprises layers of water-ice that extend to a depth of around 2 km. The layers result from seasonal melting and deposition of ice mixed with dust. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Floor of Ius Chasma

tumblr_ojwhzwvxCM1rlz4gso1_1280Floor of Ius Chasma. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Dust devil tracks in Argyre

Dust devil scribbles (THEMIS_IOTD_20170123)THEMIS Image of the Day, January 23, 2017. Today’s VIS image shows dust devil tracks in Argyre Planitia. The dark streaks are made by dust devil activity scouring the surface and removing the lighter toned dust to reveal the darker rocky surface below.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Beauty of layered stratigraphy

ESP_017833_1975The layered bedrock in this image was brought from several kilometers of depth during the formation of this 44 kilometer wide crater in the volcanic plains of Lunae Planum.

As these layers were exhumed and brought to nearly vertical orientations, faulting and fracturing occurred and breccia dikes formed. Breccias are rocks consisting of angular and sharp fragments, and a dike is a fracture that has been widened by forces pulling apart the rock while simultaneously filling it… [More at link]

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Curiosity update: ChemCam sick

NLB_538202019EDR_F0601752NCAM00375M_Sol 1586-88, January 20, 2017, update by USGS scientist Ken Herkenhoff: MSL drove another 13 meters on Sol 1585, again placing the rover in a good position for contact science.  But the telemetry also showed that ChemCam had been marked “sick,” so we will not be able to use ChemCam this weekend while the problem is diagnosed.  The weekend plan is still pretty full, though!  First, on Sol 1586, Right Mastcam will acquire small mosaics of nearby rocks named “Bell Brook,” “Blind Brook,” and “Beck Pond,” then Left Mastcam will take another image of the rover deck to look for changes in the dust and sand on the deck.  The rover will rest until late that afternoon, when the illumination will be good for… [More at link]

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Curiosity update: Examining Jewell

NRB_538115543EDR_F0601650NCAM00375M_Sol 1585, January 19, 2017, update by USGS scientist Ken Herkenhoff: After a 31-meter drive on Sol 1584, MSL is in position for contact science on a block of bedrock in front of the rover.  So, as MAHLI/MARDI uplink lead today I focused on planning a full suite of MAHLI images of a target named “Jewell” that appears to expose sedimentary structures.  The Sol 1585 plan also includes ChemCam and Right Mastcam observations of Jewell, a single Right Mastcam image of another bedrock exposure dubbed “Bernard Mountain,” and a Navcam dust devil survey.  The rover will then drive again and acquire images in the new location.  Later in the afternoon, Mastcam… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Changing dunes of Wirtz Crater

ESP_021603_1315The large dark feature is a classic Martian sand dune. Most sand on Earth is made from the mineral quartz, which is white and bright. On Mars, most sand is composed of dark basalt, a volcanic rock. For this reason, dunes on Mars are darker than those on Earth.

The dunes in this observation, within Wirtz Crater, are known as “barchans.” The steepest slope is on the eastern (right) side, partially in shadow, and represents the direction the dune is migrating as the sand is blown and transported by the wind…. [More at link]

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Curiosity: South vista & Ireson Hill

1584-navcam2Sol 1584, January 19, 2017. Curiosity drove some 30 meters (100 feet) south from yesterday’s position, and its sand-patch-dodging path has brought it slightly closer to Ireson Hill. Seen in the Navcam composite below, the hill is now about 100 meters (330 feet) away. Before the drive, the Navcam took a composite view looking south (above), from Mt. Sharp on the left to the edge of Ireson Hill at the extreme right. Both images enlarge when clicked.

Sol 1584 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

1584-navcam

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HiRISE: Landforms at end of Her Desher Vallis

tumblr_ojwhmsBVXY1rlz4gso1_1280Landforms at west end of Her Desher Vallis. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Gale Crater mound’s northern side

Gale Crater mound north side (THEMIS_IOTD_20170120)THEMIS Image of the Day, January 20, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of the floor of Gale Crater and the northern side of Mt. Sharp (Aeolis Mons). The blue-colored areas on the crater floor are likely dunes made of basaltic sand.

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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NASA’s $2.4-billion plan to steal a rock from Mars

Mars1Ed. note: The following is an except from a story in Nature; full story here.

Adam Steltzner rose to engineering stardom in 2012, when NASA’s Curiosity rover plummeted to a perfect landing on Mars, thanks to a daring, fiery manoeuvre designed by his team. Now, all Steltzner wants to talk about is how to clean.

The object of his sanitary obsession is a dark-grey metallic tube about the size of his hand. It sits on a workbench inside a warehouse-like building at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where Steltzner works as chief engineer for NASA’s next Mars rover. He needs the tube to be one of the cleanest objects ever created so that the rover can complete its mission.

As early as July 2020, the 1-tonne, 6-wheeled vehicle will blast off from Florida, carrying 43 such tubes on a 7-month trip to the red planet. Once it arrives, the rover will drive across the Martian surface and fill each tube with dirt, rock or air. Then it will seal the tubes, place them on the ground, and wait — for years, or possibly decades — for another spacecraft to retrieve them and fly them back to Earth. It will be humanity’s first attempt to bring back part of the red planet.

If all goes to plan, these will become the most precious extraterrestrial samples ever recovered. Tucked inside one of those metallic tubes could be evidence of life beyond Earth in the form of a microorganism, biominerals or organic molecules.

Which is why Steltzner and his team have to be very, very clean. Just one Earth cell or specks of other contaminants would ruin any chance of unambiguously detecting a Martian microbe…. [More at link, including video]

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HiRISE: Unusual gullied slope

tumblr_ojwia0q58N1rlz4gso1_1280Unusual gullied slope in southern mid-latitudes. Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity update: Touch and go at Frost Pond

NLB_538029632EDR_F0601422NCAM00375M_Sol 1584, January 18, 2017, update by USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: On Sol 1583 Curiosity drove 16 m, which set us up for touch-and-go contact science today.  I was the GKOP again, and it was a fun day of planning contact science and remote sensing.  The plan starts with a short APXS integration on the target “Frost Pond,” (seen in the middle of the above Navcam image) to investigate the chemistry of a typical Murray bedrock block.  Then we’ll take a full suite of MAHLI images on the same target.  Later in the plan we’ll acquire a ChemCam observation of “Frost Pond” for comparison, and we’ll also take a… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Rugged central peaks in Hale Crater

Rugged central peaks of Hale Crater (THEMIS_IOTD_20170119)THEMIS Image of the Day, January 19, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of the interior of Hale Crater.

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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