Curiosity update: Less driving, more science

NLB_555961217EDR_F0650436NCAM00269M_-br2Sol 1787, August 15, 2017, update by MSL scientist Michael Battalio: I had a busy day as the ESTLK.  At the start of operations, we discovered that the drive yestersol faulted prematurely after about only 15 m, which was roughly half the expected distance.  The drive halted because one of the middle wheels experienced a large up and down motion as if going over a large rock.  Due to the short distance since the last contact science and the uncertain nature of the stability of the terrain at Curiosity’s position, arm activities were ruled out due to the possibility of the rover shifting during arm motion.  Thus, a possible touch and go plan was scaled back to only a drive away from the faulted position.  This opened up a lot of science time, particularly for ENV.

ENV planned a late afternoon supra-horizon movie (SHM) and a zenith cloud movie.  The SHM is pointed just above the horizon due north so is sun-safe all day, but the zenith movie must be captured… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Faults and gullies in Hebes Chasma

Hebes Chasma faults and gullies (THEMIS_IOTD_20170816)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 16, 2017. This image shows the part of the northern cliff face of Hebes Chasma at the top of the image. The linear features aligned diagonally across the top of the image are large faults. These faults may have been created at the same time that the chasma formed. The materials seen at the bottom half of this image are part of the erosion of the central mesa. The layered material of the mesa appear to have been eroded by both wind and water action.

Hebes Chasma is an enclosed basin not connected to Valles Marineris. The cliff faces of the chasma itself and the interior mesa appear quite different, which may provide information on how the chasma and the mesa formed. (More on Hebes Chasma: http://bit.ly/2fFmJTq)

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has spent over 15 years in orbit around Mars, circling the planet more than 69,000 times. It holds the record for longest working spacecraft at Mars. THEMIS, the IR/VIS camera system, has collected data for the entire mission and provides images covering all seasons and lighting conditions.

Over the years many features of interest have received repeated imaging, building up a suite of images covering the entire feature. From the deepest chasma to the tallest volcano, individual dunes inside craters and dune fields that encircle the north pole, channels carved by water and lava, and a variety of other feature, THEMIS has imaged them all.

For the next several months the Image of the Day will focus on the Tharsis volcanoes, the various chasmata of Valles Marineris, and the major dunes fields. We hope you enjoy these images!

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity: Driving northeast

1786-navcamSol 1786, August 15, 2017. Curiosity continued another 16 meters (53 feet) to the northeast, driving farther away from the ridge — see its tracks behind the UHF antenna (cylinder at end of the rover’s deck). Click image to enlarge it.

Sol 1786 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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MAVEN: Deep-Dip Campaign #7 begins

20767854_10155793281272868_1234280946894509655_nAfter two weeks with minimal contact due to the recent Mars solar conjunction, the MAVEN spacecraft has recovered full communications and has resumed nominal science operations. Beginning on August 4, the team spent four days examining the health of the spacecraft and instruments, and downloading the data collected and stored onboard during conjunction.

With the checkout complete and all systems performing nominally, MAVEN has been maneuvered into a lower periapsis (lowest altitude) around 151km (94 miles), where Mars’ atmospheric density is 0.09 kg/km³.

MAVEN will execute today the first maneuver to place the spacecraft into a lower periapsis and begin the 7th deep-dip campaign. For this deep dip, the team is targeting a corridor in Mars’ atmosphere where the density is between 2.0 – 3.5 kg/km³. [More at link]

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Curiosity update: ChemCam anomaly

CR0_555772276PRC_F0650156CCAM01783L1Sol 1786, August 15, 2017, update by MSL scientist Ken Herkenhoff: MSL drove over 32 meters last weekend, to a sandy area with a few bedrock blocks, but ChemCam suffered an anomaly and was marked sick after the acquisition of the first RMI mosaic of Vera Rubin Ridge. The instrument is in a safe state and turned off, but no other ChemCam observations were successful last weekend. The instrument team will need at least one sol to recover, so no ChemCam activities will be planned today. The team concluded that it is not essential to acquire RMI data from the previous or current position, and agreed that we should stick with the touch-and-go that was strategically planned. So GEO selected “Emery Cove” as the target for a short APXS integration and 3 MAHLI images. After the arm is stowed, the Right Mastcam will take a picture of a rock named “Hupper” that appears to show cross-bedding and acquire two mosaics of “Shooting Rock” to test techniques for improving the image resolution while the RMI is unavailable. The two mosaics will be identical except for a small pointing offset between them, which… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Crater with possible phyllosilicates

tumblr_osivvkAyWI1rlz4gso4_1280Crater with possible phyllosilicates in the Terra Cimmeria highlands.

Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity update: Taking in the view

NRB_555693942EDR_S0650156NCAM00267M_-br2Sol 1783-85, August 11, 2017, update by MSL scientist Michelle Minitti: For this three sol weekend plan, Curiosity sidled up to the base of the Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR), whose proximity is evidenced by the 12 degree upward tilt of the rover’s parking position, for an extended suite of imaging of the ridge and its surroundings.

Curiosity will acquire a large mosaic (70 images!) with Mastcam’s highest resolution camera of the beautiful bedding structures and dramatic veins seen in this portion of the VRR. She will also zoom in on two areas of particular interest – an example of parallel layering and a contact between bright and dark rocks – using ChemCam’s Remote Microscopic Imager to further draw out details of the structures apparent there. These mosaics, along with others previously acquired at other imaging stops along the base of the VRR, will help the team unravel the origin of the VRR and its relationship to the Murray formation that Curiosity has spent so much time traversing over. Views of the relationship of the VRR and the Murray formation will also be afforded by the 360 degree Mastcam mosaic planned for early morning on Sol 1785. [More at link]

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THEMIS: Landslides in Hebes Chasma

Landslides into Hebes Chasma (THEMIS_IOTD_20170815)THEMIS Image of the Day, August 15, 2017. This image shows the part of the southern cliff face of Hebes Chasma at the bottom of the image. The materials seen in the majority of this image are part of the erosion of the central mesa, perhaps created by a massive landslide.

Hebes Chasma is an enclosed basin not connected to Valles Marineris. The cliff faces of the chasma itself and the interior mesa appear quite different, which may provide information on how the chasma and the mesa formed. (More on Hebes Chasma: http://bit.ly/2fFmJTq)

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has spent over 15 years in orbit around Mars, circling the planet more than 69,000 times. It holds the record for longest working spacecraft at Mars. THEMIS, the IR/VIS camera system, has collected data for the entire mission and provides images covering all seasons and lighting conditions.

Over the years many features of interest have received repeated imaging, building up a suite of images covering the entire feature. From the deepest chasma to the tallest volcano, individual dunes inside craters and dune fields that encircle the north pole, channels carved by water and lava, and a variety of other feature, THEMIS has imaged them all.

For the next several months the Image of the Day will focus on the Tharsis volcanoes, the various chasmata of Valles Marineris, and the major dunes fields. We hope you enjoy these images!

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity: Driving along the ridge

1785-navcamSol 1785, August 14, 2017. Curiosity turned east and drove for almost 30 meters (99 feet), then made a short dogleg turn to the northeast. The frames for the Navcam composite above were taken at the end of the drive. Curiosity’s tracks and the turning point are visible just beyond the cylindrical UHF antenna at the rear of rover’s deck. (Click either image to enlarge it.)

Sol 1785 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location, also seen in the photo-map below.

Curiosity_Location_Sol1785

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HiRISE: Down in an ancient impact crater

tumblr_osiw9pPa6e1rlz4gso1_1280Down in an ancient impact crater. Beautiful Mars series.

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