HiRISE: Volcanic field on floor of Coprates Chasma

ESP_054926_1665A volcanic field on the floor of Coprates Chasma. In this image, there are some nice cones with summit craters surrounded by a flow field. They look young, but they could have been buried and re-exhumed based on nearby pedestal craters.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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Curiosity update: So much to do before the holiday

NLB_614101983EDR_F0760988CCAM01440M_-br2Sols 2441-42, June 19, 2019, update by MSL engineer Ashley Stroupe: Curiosity is still parked on Teal Ridge and is in the midst of an extended contact science campaign. This ridge location, shown in the attached image over Curiosity’s shoulder, is exciting because it shows crossbedding in a bedrock layer, as well as a contact between the bedrock outcrop and a rubbly layer below. We hoped to use the DRT to remove dust, but we still didn’t have Mastcam workspace imaging to support DRT use on the bedrock. Happily, we were able to reach some of the rubbly material that we previously thought we’d have to bump to. We picked two contact science targets – “Urr” (rubbly) and “Calgary Bay” (cap unit of the ridge); we planned MAHLI and APXS on both.

In addition to contact science, we’re doing remote sensing with ChemCam and Mastcam on Calgary Bay and another cap unit target called “Irvine.” There is also a lot of ENV imaging in the plan, including change detection (which will continue into the next plan) on Sandyhills. Also part of our ENV campaign, we included a coordinated suite of observations including a SAM methane experiment, ChemCam sky imaging, Mastcam tau, crater rim extinction, and a Navcam dust devil survey… [More at link]

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Meteors help make Mars clouds

PIA23243How did the Red Planet get all of its clouds? CU Boulder researchers may have discovered the secret: just add meteors.

Astronomers have long observed clouds in Mars’ middle atmosphere, which begins about 18 miles (30 kilometers) above the surface, but have struggled to explain how they formed.

Now, a new study, which [was] published on June 17 in the journal Nature Geoscience, examines those wispy accumulations and suggests that they owe their existence to a phenomenon called “meteoric smoke” — essentially, the icy dust created by space debris slamming into the planet’s atmosphere.

The findings are a good reminder that planets and their weather patterns aren’t isolated from the solar systems around them.

“We’re used to thinking of Earth, Mars and other bodies as these really self-contained planets that determine their own climates,” said Victoria Hartwick, a graduate student in the Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences (ATOC) and lead author of the new study. “But climate isn’t independent of the surrounding solar system.”

The research, which included co-authors Brian Toon at CU Boulder and Nicholas Heavens at Hampton University in Virginia, hangs on a basic fact about clouds: They don’t come out of nowhere… [More at links]

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THEMIS: Crazy craters

Crazy craters (THEMIS_IOTD_20190619)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 19, 2019. Today’s VIS image shows two craters located on the margin of Syrtis Major Planum.

The two large craters are not circular. The flatter sides are caused by the pressure wave generated by the impact being deflected along tectonic fractures in the surface rocks.

On Earth, Meteor Crater (Arizona) also has “corners” due to subsurface faults.

Explore more THEMIS Images of the Day by geological subject.

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Curiosity: Nice view from up here

2439-navcamSol 2439, June 17, 2019. With the Navcam frames downloaded and composited, it becomes clear that Curiosity climbed the Waypoint 4 ridge, and the layered outcrop lies at its… er, wheels. Beyond the summit rocks, waves of low ridges roll away into the distance. Click the image to enlarge it.

Sol 2439 raw images (from all cameras).

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Curiosity update: Retransmit, please!

2437MR0129250081003268C00_DXXX-br2Sol 2440, June 17, 2019, update by MSL scientist Dawn Sumner: Curiosity’s most recent transmission didn’t come down as expected, so our plan today is to command the rover to retransmit its latest data. That includes where it ended up after its drive this weekend. We still spent the morning planning. Because we were missing key data about exactly where Curiosity is, we could not implement our planned MAHLI and APXS analyses. Rather, we focused on “untargeted” observations, which don’t require knowing Curiosity’s exact location. The team planned regular weather observations, a survey of the sky at twilight, a movie looking for dust devils and a second one looking up at the clouds. We also planned a 360° Mastcam image to capture the regional outcrops as well as three ChemCam AEGIS analyses, where the instrument automatically selects targets within a region defined by the team. We also asked Curiosity to retransmit detailed location and image data so that we can plan… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Uncommon

ESP_054921_1555Uncommon. Craters are, of course, common on Mars, but what is interesting about this one is that the impact excavated some uncommon hydrous minerals. Also, the image suggester’s name is John Carter. Make of that what you will.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]

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THEMIS: ‘Blizzard’ of dust devil tracks

Dust devil tracks (THEMIS_IOTD_20190618)THEMIS Image of the Day, June 18, 2019. Wind is one of the most active processes on Mars today. This image was taken near Hooke Crater on the margin of Argyre Planitia.

These micro-tornados, which form similarly to their counterparts on Earth, move along the surface between the hills and valleys of the crater ejecta, picking up the surface dust and leaving the dust-free darker rock exposed.

Explore more THEMIS Images of the Day by geological subject.

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Curiosity: Up to the ridgetop

2439-navcam1NRB_614011503EDR_D0760958TRAV00789M_Sol 2439, June 17, 2019. Rover planners gave the OK to drive Curiosity up the pebbled slope of the Marwick Head ridge to examine the outcrop at the summit, in particular the layered portion at top right.

Above is the pre-climb view from two Navcam frames. At right are two Navcam quarter-size subframes showing the changing perspective on the outcrop’s layers as Curiosity ascended the slope. Click the top image to enlarge it; those at right are as received.NRB_614011844EDR_D0760988TRAV00789M_

Sol 2439 raw images (from all cameras).

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HiRISE: Cratered cones on northern plains

ESP_054911_2180Cratered cones on northern plains. The title alone sounds delicious. These cratered cones might be mud volcanoes, landforms created by the eruption of mud or slurries, water and gases. No lava involved.

HiRISE Picture of the Day archive. [More at links]


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