HiRISE: A winter’s view of a gullied crater

ESP_049083_2320This is the location with the most impressive known gully activity in the Northern hemisphere. Gullies are active in the winter due to carbon dioxide frost, but northern winters are shorter and warmer than southern winters, so there is less frost and less gully activity.

An enhanced-color image cutout shows recent gullies with bright colors. [More at link]

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Opportunity: RATting Ogalalla

4704-miSol 4704, April 18, 2017. On its path to Perseverance Valley, the rover drove across an area of flat rock, apparently bedrock. But what rock unit is it?

As a target of, um, opportunity, the science team decided to drill into the rock with the Rock Abrasion Tool, better known as the RAT. (A false-color view of the rock slab that has been RATted is here.)

1F545797158EFFCXT6P1110R0M1At top right is the view of the RAT target dubbed Ogallala, while at lower right is the front Hazcam view, which shows the upper slope of Cape Tribulation. Both images enlarge when clicked.

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

 

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Curiosity update: More rocks out the front window

NLB_545659903EDR_F0621080NCAM00251M_Sol 1671, April 17, 2017, update by ChemCam Principal Investigator Roger Wiens: Today I covered the ChemCam Payload Element Lead (PEL) role for this first Monday after Easter. Normally the ChemCam team starts Mondays with a telephone tag-up as we hand over operations between the French and US portions of the team. We alternate doing ChemCam operations from week to week…

Meanwhile, back on Mars, Curiosity nailed the 34 meter drive to another rock exposure identified in orbital images. Ever since we observed possible mud cracks at Old Soaker the rover team has been pursuing the idea that Curiosity is exploring strata that represent occasional dry-lake periods. As the rover drives further from the dunes, it is nice to be seeing more and more interesting rocks out the front window. The main activities in the plan that we’re sending up to the rover today include a 9×7 Mastcam mosaic of the rock outcrop “Jellison Cove”, MAHLI, APXS, and ChemCam on “Deer Isle”, and a second ChemCam analysis of “Calf Island”. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Secondary craters in bas-relief

ESP_049076_1845This region of Mars has been sprayed with secondary craters from 10-kilometer Zunil Crater to the northwest.

Secondary craters form from rocks ejected at high speed from the primary crater, which then impact the ground at sufficiently high speed to make huge numbers of much smaller craters over a large region. In this scene, however, the secondary crater ejecta has an unusual raised-relief appearance like bas-relief sculpture. How did that happen?

One idea is that the region was covered with a layer of fine-grained materials like dust or pyroclastics about 1 to 2 meters thick when the Zunil impact occurred (about a million years ago), and the ejecta served to harden or otherwise protect the fine-grained layer from later erosion by the wind. [More at link]

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THEMIS: South polar ice in false color

South polar cap in false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20170418)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 18, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of the south polar cap. This part lies adjacent to the area shown yesterday.

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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HiRISE: Immature spider terrain

tumblr_ookb5yWjai1rlz4gso1_1280Immature spider terrain — Completely in need of adult supervision, obviously.

Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: South polar ice cap in false color

Mars south polar ice in false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20170417)THEMIS Image of the Day, April 17, 2017. Today’s false color image shows a trough in the south polar cap. Layering in the ice can be seen at the bottom of the image.

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 update: Diving into (analysis of) Moosehead Lake

NLB_545400518EDR_F0620786NCAM00353M_-br2Sol 1668-70, April 14, 2017, update by USGS scientist Ryan Anderson and Michael Battalio: Our latest drive put us in position in front of the interesting “Moosehead Lake” outcrop with lots of veins and grey patches: plenty to keep Curiosity busy over the weekend! The Sol 1668 plan starts off with a nice long science block. ChemCam has observations of targets “Sheldrake Island”, “Crabtree Neck”, “Waukeah Neck”, “Morancy Stream” and “Ogden Point”. This is followed by a dust devil survey and several Mastcam mosaics. These include one covering Moosehead Lake, a few frames to extend the coverage of the area near the rover, and a big 22 frame mosaic of the outcrop at our next stop. Mastcam will also take a picture of the ChemCam auto-targeted location from after the drive. After that MAHLI will take pictures of the targets “Morancy Stream” and “Sheldrake Island” and then APXS will analyze those… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Silence of the south polar layered deposits

tumblr_onfpe4UTvE1rlz4gso1_1280Silence of the south polar layered deposits. Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity: Bumpy path ahead

1666-navcam1666-rmiSol 1666, April 13, 2017. Following a 9-meter (30-foot) drive, Curiosity reached a point where five Navcam frames show a rock-strewn path ahead, as it threads its way south between sand patches.

At right, an RMI composite on a rock with a bright mineral vein, taken before the drive. Click either image to enlarge it.

Sol 1666 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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