Curiosity: Cross-bedded Kopong outcrop

1473-mastcam34Sol 1473, September 27, 2016. The Mastcam (with its 34mm wide-angle lens) took a six-frame composite (5.2 MB) of the cross-bedded outcrop Kopong, mentioned in the USGS Curiosity update below and its immediate surroundings. Note the light-tone veins running all through the rock and its nodule-like weathering texture. (Click image to enlarge.)

Sol 1473 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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Curiosity update: Murray cross-bedding

NLB_528262332EDR_F0580774NCAM00353M_Sol 1474, September 27, 2016, update by USGS scientist Ken Herkenhoff: The 16-meter drive on Sol 1473 completed perfectly, placing the rover in position for contact science on an outcrop of cross-bedded Murray bedrock.  The primary goal for Sol 1474 is to characterize the cross-bedding and measure grain sizes using MAHLI, and we were able to squeeze in a lot of other good observations.  Before the arm is deployed, ChemCam will measure the chemical composition of the “Kopong” bedrock target, Mastcam will acquire mosaics of the Kopong outcrop and a couple of blocks behind it, and Navcam will search for clouds. [More at link]

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Opportunity: Spirit Mound workspace

1P528308346ESFCT60P2565L5M1_L2L5L5L7L74505-7-pancamSols 4505-07, September 26-28, 2016. Above is a shot looking over Spirit Mound toward a boulder field out on the floor of Endeavour Crater. At right is a three-shot composite (1.7 MB) taken over three sols of the workspace that the rover’s arm can reach. (All are false-color Pancam reconstructions by Holger Isenberg; all enlarge when clicked.)

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

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HiRISE: Layers within a crater in Lucus Planum

tumblr_oe6a2q4mks1rlz4gso1_1280Layers within a crater in Lucus Planum. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Craters within craters in Terra Cimmeria

Craters within craters in Cimmeria (THEMIS_IOTD_20160928)THEMIS Image of the Day, September 28, 2016. This VIS image shows two craters in Terra Cimmeria. The inner crater impacted at some time after the outer crater was created. The rim of the smaller, interior crater has several gullies on the south facing side.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity: Outlook, fore and aft

FRB_528262238EDR_F0580774FHAZ00302M_Sol 1473, September 27, 2016. After all the recent driving, including 16 meters (53 feet) today, Curiosity is now well away from the Murray Buttes seen in the rear Hazcam view, below right. Meanwhile, at near right, the front Hazcam shows a few nicely layered rocks dead ahead. Both images reveal bright veins in the rocks on the ground.

Click either image to enlarge, and note that the rear Hazcam image contains a lot of noise.

RRB_528262373EDR_F0580774RHAZ00311M_Sol 1473 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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THEMIS: South polar ice cap textures

South polar ice cap textures (themis_iotd_20160927)THEMIS Image of the Day, September 27, 2016. This VIS image shows part of the South Polar cap. As spring moves into the summer the surface frost is reduced and the surface texture of the ice is revealed.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: In search of a contact science location

NRB_528086029EDR_F0580642NCAM00256M_Sol 1473, September 26, 2016, update by USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: Over the weekend Curiosity drove 43 m to the south, in search of a good place for contact science.  Unfortunately, our present location is in a small valley, and we don’t have many good rock targets in the workspace.  After evaluating the Mastcam drive direction imaging, we decided to drive further to the southwest. This should put us in front of a small exposure… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Irregular basin floor material

tumblr_oe4fjnM9em1rlz4gso2_1280Irregular basin floor material. Beautiful Mars series.

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HRSC: Mawrth Vallis mosaic

Mawrth_Vallis_martian_mosaicSculpted by ancient water flowing on the surface, Mawrth Vallis is one of the most remarkable outflow channels on Mars. The valley, once a potentially habitable place, is one of the main features of a region at the boundary between the southern highlands and the northern lowlands.

Mawrth Vallis takes centre stage in this image, a bird’s eye view of a 330 000 sq km area surrounding the valley. With a length of 600 km and a depth of up to 2 km, it is one of the biggest valleys on Mars. Huge amounts of water once passed through it, from a higher elevation region, part of which is shown in the lower right of the image, into the northern plains, in the top left.

Among the remarkable features are the large exposures of light-toned phyllosilicates (weathered clay minerals) that lie along its course. Phyllosilicates on Mars are evidence of the past presence of liquid water and point to the possibility that habitable environments could have existed on the planet up until 3.6 billion years ago.

A dark cap rock, remains of ancient volcanic ash, covers many of the clays and could have protected traces of ancient microbes in the rocks from radiation and erosion. This makes Mawrth Vallis one of the most interesting regions for geologists and astrobiologists alike. It is one of the candidate landing sites for ExoMars 2020, a joint mission between ESA and Russia, with the primary goal of finding out if life once existed on Mars. [More at link]

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THEMIS: Lava flow and crater, Daedalia Planum

Lava and crater in Daedalia (THEMIS_IOTD_20160926)THEMIS Image of the Day, September 26, 2016. Today’s VIS image shows a small portion of Daedalia Planum. Daedalia Planum was created by lava flows from Arsia Mons.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity update: Change of plans

FLB_527905995EDR_F0580264FHAZ00302M_-br2Sol 1470-72, September 23, 2016, update by USGS scientist Ryan Anderson: Our drive went nicely and we are already about halfway to our next drill site! Our original plan to head toward an outcrop called “Karasburg” had to be changed because it turned out to be covered in sand and not very steep, making it a less-desirable science target. So instead we are heading toward a location where (we hope) the stratigraphy will be better-exposed.

For this weekend’s plan, we start out on sol 1470 with a Navcam dust devil search and atmospheric observation, plus ChemCam of the targets “Chiagne”, “Chibemba”, and “Chibanda”. Mastcam will document those three targets, as well as the location of the automated ChemCam observation that was collected after yesterday’s drive. Mastcam also has three mosaics: a 6×3 of the Karasburg outcrop, a 4×1 of a location called “Longojo”, and a 5×2 extension of the drive direction mosaic. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Intersecting channels near Olympica Fossae

ESP_045091_2045This complicated area contains various types of channels, pits and fractures. We can determine the relative ages of the pits and channels based on which features cross-cut others. Older channels appear smooth-edged and shallow. Younger channels and pits are deeper and more sharp-edged, as well as less sinuous than the shallower channels.

What caused this array of various channels and intersecting pits?

This region is covered in vast lava flows. The collapse pits here may be collapsed lava tubes or where overlying rock “drained” into voids created by extensional faulting. [More at link]

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Opportunity: Pancam checks Spirit Mound

4502-pancam1P527850174ESFCT00P2560L1M1Sol 4502, September 22, 2016. Above is a Pancam composite showing part of Spirit Mound and one of the small rocky “ridges” leading away from it. Pancam took a fully filtered set of images for the two leftmost frames (false-colored by Holger Isenberg), and just single-filtered frames for the rest. (More Pancam frames on this rocky area may follow on later sols.)

1P527850217ESFCT00P2561L1M1At right are two Pancam shots, both less than full-frame, on boulders lying close to Spirit Mound. The two boulders and many rocks near them show ventifacts — sculpting by windblown dust.

All images enlarge when clicked.

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

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THEMIS: Wind streaks on Daedalia Planum

Wind streaks big and small (THEMIS_IOTD_20160923)THEMIS Image of the Day, September 23, 2016. This VIS image shows part of Daedalia Planum as well as several windstreaks. There is a large streak in the bottom half of the frame from a large crater off the image to the right. The “tail” of the windstreak is on the downwind side of the crater.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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