THEMIS: Faults and flows

Faults and flows in Mangala Fossa (THEMIS_IOTD_20141020)THEMIS Image of the Day, October 20, 2014. Lava flows of Daedalia Planum can be seen at the top and bottom portions of this VIS image. The ridge and linear depression in the central part of the image are part of Mangala Fossa, a fault bounded graben.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HRSC: Flight over chaotic terrain

ESA-hydraotes-flyoverAmong the most interesting landforms on Mars are features referred to as ‘chaotic terrain’. Dozens or even hundreds of isolated mountains up to 2,000 m high are scattered in these extensive regions. Seen from orbit, they form a bizarre, chaotic pattern. Such terrains are found over a large area to both the west and east of Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the Solar System. Hydraotes Chaos, showcased in this video, is a typical example of this type of landscape. The data used to generate these images and the simulated flyover were acquired with the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express orbiter… [More at link, including 2D video and anaglyph 3D video]

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Mars Odyssey, MRO, MAVEN: healthy after flyby

comet-16-9Mars Odyssey: “The telemetry received from Odyssey this afternoon confirms not only that the spacecraft is in fine health but also that it conducted the planned observations of comet Siding Spring within hours of the comet’s closest approach to Mars,” said Odyssey Mission Manager Chris Potts of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., speaking from mission operations center at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver… [More at link]

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: The orbiter continues operating in good health after sheltering behind Mars during the half hour when high-velocity dust particles from comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring had the most chance of reaching the paths of Mars orbiters. It maintained radio communications with Earth throughout the comet’s closest approach, at 11:27 a.m. PDT (2:27 p.m. EDT), and the peak dust-risk period centered about 100 minutes later. “The spacecraft performed flawlessly throughout the comet flyby,” said Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project Manager Dan Johnston of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “It maneuvered for the planned observations of the comet and emerged unscathed…” [More at link]

MAVEN: The MAVEN spacecraft — full name Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution — reported back to Earth in good health after about three hours of precautions against a possible collision with high-velocity dust particles released by comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring. “We’re glad the spacecraft came through, we’re excited to complete our observations of how the comet affects Mars, and we’re eager to get to our primary science phase,” said MAVEN Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado, Boulder… [More at link]

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Comet links roundup

At Emily Lakdawalla’s blog at The Planetary Society, there is a roundup of links to information and webcasts about the encounter between Mars and Comet Siding Spring. As she notes, it’ll take several days to download the data from Mars, calibrate it, and turn it into usable observations.

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Good Luck Today For the Encounter!

Well, the big day is finally here, the one we have planned for for so long. We’ve got an intact active, changing comet about to swing close by Mars! …From our side, we expect to be hearing more and more over the next few days, starting mid-Sunday night, about what happened at Mars, as the various spacecraft download their data and it gets calibrated, validated, and distributed on Earth. Stay tuned!

More: Comet Campaign blogs here.

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Mars and Comet Siding Spring in same image

461787_10205219329669827_5361121039437083463_oAn excellent view of Mars and Comet Siding Spring comprising several separate images captured by Scott Ferguson, Florida, USA, this morning around 01:00 UTC (03:00CEST). [More at link]

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Curiosity update: ‘Comet observations’

Sol 782-784, October 17, 2014, update from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: “The experience I gained planning the MARDI drive “video” for Sol 780 helped me prepare for another MARDI video during the Sol 782 drive….  But concerns were raised about the safety of Sol 783 ChemCam observations of Comet Siding Spring… [More at link]

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Comet Siding Spring encounter, Sunday, Oct. 19

Comet-Siding-Spring-Science-Observations-brScience plans for NASA’s Mars spacecraft for the Mars encounter with Comet Siding Spring on Sunday, October 19, are tabulated above. Some links to keep you up to date as information comes back:

• NASA: http://mars.nasa.gov/comets/sidingspring

• CometCampaign.org: http://cometcampaign.org

• European Space Agency’s Mars Express blog: http://blogs.esa.int/mex 

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Curiosity update: ‘Dumping sample’

NLB_466740403EDR_F0430216NCAM05693M_Sol 781, October 16, 2014, update from USGS Scientist Ken Herkenhoff: “The 22-meter Sol 780 drive completed as planned, placing the rover near “Book Cliffs” (visible at the right side of this image [right]).  Sol 781 planning was interrupted this morning by the Great Shakeout earthquake drill, but the tactical team recovered and stayed on schedule the rest of the day…” [More at link]

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THEMIS: Lava flows

Lava flows near Arsia Mons (THEMIS_IOTD_20141017)THEMIS Image of the Day, October 17, 2014. This VIS image shows lava flows near Arsia Mons.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Opportunity: Panorama at Wdowiak Ridge

PIA18615_modestThe latest fieldwork site for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which has been examining a series of Martian craters since 2004, is on the slope of a prominent hill jutting out of the rim of a large crater and bearing its own much smaller crater. It’s called Wdowiak Ridge.

“Wdowiak Ridge sticks out like a sore thumb. We want to understand why this ridge is located off the primary rim of Endeavour Crater and how it fits into the geologic story of this region,” said Opportunity science-team member Jim Rice of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona… [More at link]

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MAVEN: Status update, October 15, 2014

MAVEN-early-resultsCommissioning activities have gone extremely well over the few weeks since MAVEN entered Mars orbit on September 21. Since then, we have successfully completed four engine burns to lower MAVEN’s orbit. MAVEN now orbits Mars every 4.6 hours with a periapsis (closest distance from the Mars surface) of 175 kilometers. All instruments are activated, and we are seeing data that represents exciting first science from the Mars upper atmosphere. On Oct. 14, 2014, the science team held a conference call with the media to discuss early results. Over the past week we successfully completed five deployments of MAVEN instrument systems needed for six of the eight… [More at link]

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Opportunity: Crowded work space

1P466597877EFFCHYOP2530L5M1_L2L5L5L7L7Sol 3812, October 14, 2014. Shades Valley is the rock target in the center foreground with a light-tone upper surface. All around lie smaller rocks, most or all of them being ejected debris from the Ulysses Crater impact. Several may have been cracked, rolled over, or pushed into the dirt by the rover’s wheels (note the tracks). False-color image by Holger Isenberg using filtered Pancam frames.

Opportunity raw images, its latest mission status, and a location map.

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‘Mars One’ colony not feasible: MIT

MIT-Mars-One-01_0In 2012, the “Mars One” project, led by a Dutch nonprofit, announced plans to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. The mission would initially send four astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars, where they would spend the rest of their lives building the first permanent human settlement…. But engineers at MIT say the project may have to take a step back, at least to reconsider the mission’s technical feasibility. The MIT researchers developed a detailed settlement-analysis tool to assess the feasibility of the Mars One mission, and found that new technologies will be needed to keep humans alive… [More at link]

Edit: Technical paper available here.

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CRISM: Carbonate minerals near Huygens Crater

carbonatesHere we see Fe/Ca carbonates (pink) along the southeastern wall of an unnamed crater’s central pit. Because these carbonates are seen in the central pit, it is thought that they were formed in the subsurface (underground) but then brought up and exposed by the impact that formed this crater. The high resolution image on the right shows a close up of the location of the carbonates…. [More at link]

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