HiRISE: Bedrock exhumed from the deep

ESP_011523_1695Roadside bedrock outcrops are all too familiar for many who have taken a long road trip through mountainous areas on Earth. Martian craters provide what tectonic mountain building and man’s TNT cannot: crater-exposed bedrock outcrops.

Although crater and valley walls offer us roadside-like outcrops from just below the Martian surface, their geometry is not always conducive to orbital views. On the other hand, a crater central peak—a collection of mountainous rocks that have been brought up from depth, but also rotated and jumbled during the cratering process—produce some of the most spectacular views of bedrock from orbit. [More at link]

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Curiosity: Ireson Hill & distant butte

1583-navcamSol 1583, January 18, 2017. After driving 16 meters (55 feet) south-southwest, Curiosity used its Navcam to image Ireson Hill (left) and a more distant butte almost superimposed. From this point Ireson Hill lies about 100 meters away, while the far butte is about a kilometer away.

The butte was profiled in color by the Mastcam’s 100mm lens on Sol 1580; see here. Click the image (1.5 MB) above to enlarge it.

Sol 1583 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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MARCI weather report, January 9-15, 2017

jan-10-2017Local-scale dust storm activity was observed over a number of martian regions during this past week. These here today gone tomorrow style dust storms recurred over Amazonis, Chryse, Tempe, and near the Phlegra Montes. The southern highlands were relatively uneventful by comparison with only a couple tiny transient dust storms near the perennial south polar ice cap edge. Looking to the tropics, condensate water-ice clouds were spotted over… [More at link]

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Curiosity update: Driving and remote sensing

1580MR0080440020800316E01_DXXXSol 1583, January 17, 2017, update by USGS scientist Lauren Edgar: The 4-sol weekend plan went well, and Curiosity drove ~ 44 m further to the south.  I was the GKOP today and it was a fairly straightforward plan focused on driving and remote sensing. We’re in late slide sols this week, which means that today we started 2 hours later than usual to wait for critical images to come down.  The plan starts with two ChemCam observations of the target “Benner Hill” to investigate the chemistry and color variations around a vein.  We also planned a small Mastcam mosaic to document the bedrock as we continue climbing Mt. Sharp.  Then Curiosity will drive, and we’ll take post-drive imaging for context and targeting.  We’re also planning some workspace imaging… [More at link]

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Opportunity: Route to the rim

4616-navcam31F537971598EFFCUJ8P1212R0M1Sol 4616, January 18, 2017. With the soft soil now behind the rover, Opportunity’s Navcam shows a route to the rim crest that promises good driving (1.9 MB). At right, the Hazcam view. Click either image to enlarge it.

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

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Curiosity: Possible mud cracks at Old Soaker

PIA21261_hiresScientists used NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover in recent weeks to examine slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that likely originated as cracks in drying mud.

“Mud cracks are the most likely scenario here,” said Curiosity science team member Nathan Stein. He is a graduate student at Caltech in Pasadena, California, who led the investigation of a site called “Old Soaker,” on lower Mount Sharp, Mars.

If this interpretation holds up, these would be the first mud cracks — technically called desiccation cracks — confirmed by the Curiosity mission. They would be evidence that the ancient era when these sediments were deposited included some drying after wetter conditions. Curiosity has found evidence of ancient lakes in older, lower-lying rock layers and also in younger mudstone that is above Old Soaker.

“Even from a distance, we could see a pattern of four- and five-sided polygons that don’t look like fractures we’ve seen previously with Curiosity,” Stein said. “It looks like what you’d see beside the road where muddy ground has dried and cracked.” (…)

The team used Curiosity to examine the crack-filling material. Cracks that form at the surface, such as in drying mud, generally fill with windblown dust or sand. A different type of cracking with plentiful examples found by Curiosity occurs after sediments have hardened into rock. Pressure from accumulation of overlying sediments can cause underground fractures in the rock. These fractures generally have been filled by minerals delivered by groundwater circulating through the cracks, such as bright veins of calcium sulfate. [More at link]

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THEMIS: Waves of dunes in Rabe Crater

Rabe Crater sea of dunes (THEMIS_IOTD_20170118)THEMIS Image of the Day, January 18, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of the sand dune field on the floor of Rabe Crater. (More on Rabe Crater here.)

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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Curiosity: Ames Knob, nickel-iron meteorite

1577MR0080320000800289E01_DXXX-br2Sol 1577, January 12, 2017. The rover’s Mastcam (100mm lens) imaged what appears to be a small nickel-iron meteorite, dubbed Ames Knob. It is similar in appearance and chemical makeup to Egg Rock, found last fall. (Click image to enlarge it.)

According to MSL Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of JPL, “This shiny object, called ‘Ames Knob,’ was noticed in recent images from Curiosity. It resembles the iron-nickel meteorite, ‘Egg Rock,’ that Curiosity examined in November, so this target was inspected with the laser-firing ChemCam spectrometer. It yielded similar results (i.e., iron and nickel), so possibly a meteorite.”

Sol 1577 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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HiRISE: Layers in SW Arabia crater

tumblr_ojnfxc3TGR1rlz4gso1_1280Layers in a crater in southwestern Arabia Terra. Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity: Outlier butte

1580-navcam-iresonSol 1580, January 15, 2017. The Mastcam, using its 100mm telephoto lens, shot a six-frame composite (4.5 MB) of a distant outlier butte. It lies about a kilometer (3,200 feet) southwest of Curiosity. Click image to enlarge it.

Sol 1580 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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HiRISE: Crater with exposed layers

PSP_008206_1620On Earth, geologists can dig holes and pull up core samples to find out what lies beneath the surface. On Mars, geologists cannot dig holes very easily themselves, but a process has been occurring for billions of years that has been digging holes for them: impact cratering.

Impact craters form when an asteroid, meteoroid, or comet crashes into a planet’s surface, causing an explosion. The energy of the explosion, and the resulting size of the impact crater, depends on the size and density of the impactor, as well as the properties of the surface it hits. In general, the larger and denser the impactor, the larger the crater it will form. [More at link]

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THEMIS: Coprates Chasma in false color

Coprates Chasma deposits (THEMIS_IOTD_20170117)THEMIS Image of the Day, January 17, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of the interior of Coprates Chasma. Coprates is one segment of the gigantic equatorial rift valley, Valles Marineris.

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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Opportunity: Soft soil, then firmer ground

46114-navcam1F537798628EFFCUHJP1299R0M_Sol 4614, January 16, 2017. Above, a wide-angle Navcam composite (3.7 MB) from the rover up to the rim crest.

At right: Opportunity’s wheels hit soft ground again, before the continued driving reached a place with better trafficability. Click either image to enlarge it.

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

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HiRISE: Relatively dust-free lavas, Asia Mons

tumblr_ojnftjRHCC1rlz4gso1_1280Relatively dust free lavas from Arsia Mons. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Terra Sirenum dunes & gullies

Gullies and dunes in Terra Sirenum (THEMIS_IOTD_20170116)THEMIS Image of the Day, January 16, 2017. Today’s VIS image is of an unnamed crater in Terra Sirenum. There are gullies dissecting part of the crater rim, and small dunes on the crater floor.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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