Curiosity update: A fashionably late data downlink

FLB_563594825EDR_F0662414FHAZ00302M_-br2Sol 1872-75, November 13, 2017, update by MSL scientist Abigail Fraeman: Because the alignment of a Mars sol versus an Earth day is constantly changing, we sometimes start our planning day a couple hours earlier or later than normal. Today was one of those days where we were scheduled to start the planning process several hours later than normal. However, our actually start time ended up being even a little later than expected because there was an issue with the downlink, which meant we did not receive any data from Mars until ~45 minutes into the planning process. Because of this delay, we didn’t have enough time to do a full assessment of the rover’s position in order to determine whether it would be stable and safe to move the arm. Fortunately there was still lots of science to do, so we had no problem filling the plan with remote sensing observations plus a small drive that should get us into an even better position for contact science on Monday.

Since today is Friday, we put together a three sol plan that will take Curiosity through the weekend. On the morning of the first sol, we will have a remote sensing block with Mastcam deck monitoring, an observation of the atmosphere with Mastcam, and ChemCam observations on targets “Fort Brown,” “Kirkwood,” and “Fairfield.” We will also take a Mastcam multispectral observation of what might be our… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Moreux Crater’s pocketful of dunes

Field of dunes in Moreux Crater (THEMIS_IOTD_20171113)THEMIS Image of the Day, November 13, 2017. Moreux Crater is located in northern Arabia Terra and has a diameter of 138 kilometers. The crater contains a central peak, and dunes on the floor of the crater. This VIS image shows the dune field to the northwest of the central peak. The rim of the crater is at the top of the image. It has be dissected by numerous channels. There are indications that glaciers may have been present in the valleys at sometime in the past.

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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HiRISE: Well-preserved 4-kilometer impact crater

tumblr_oyutt94en21rlz4gso1_1280Well-preserved 4-kilometer impact crater on the floor of Hellas Planitia. Why do we say “well-preserved?” Mainly due to the fact that the rim of the crater is still very visible.

Beautiful Mars series.

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MAVEN: 3D orbit visualizer

MAVEN-3D-orbitCheck out this 3D viewer from the MAVEN Science Data Center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. This Cesium product is a fun (and useful) visualization tool that displays MAVEN’s orbit around Mars, its orientation as it points in different directions during its orbit, and the science data it collects from the Martian atmosphere and the solar wind.

With this tool, viewers can choose to display the MAVEN spacecraft in the planet’s reference frame so that Mars remains stationary, or in an inertial reference frame in which the planet rotates. (…)

The software for this visualization tool was built and maintained by data systems personnel at the University of Colorado Boulder’s LASP, using Cesium and the open-source LaTiS tool for serving time-series data. [More at links]

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THEMIS: Morning sunlight on Pavonis Mons caldera

THEMIS Image of the DayBig wide pit on top of Pavonis Mons (THEMIS_IOTD_20171110), November 10, 2017. This image shows the central part of the smaller summit caldera on Pavonis Mons. On the top side of the caldera is a complex region of fault related collapse of the wall of the caldera. Several intersecting faults are visible on the top of the image. The faults would have formed areas of weakness in the caldera wall, precipitating into gravity driven down slope movement of materials.

This caldera is approximately 5 km (3 miles) deep. In shield volcanoes calderas are typically formed where the surface collapses into the void formed by an emptied magma chamber.

Pavonis Mons is one of the three aligned Tharsis Volcanoes. The four Tharsis volcanoes are Ascreaus Mons, Pavonis Mons, Arsia Mons, and Olympus Mars. All four are shield type volcanoes. Shield volcanoes are formed by lava flows originating near or at the summit, building up layers upon layers of lava. The Hawaiian islands on Earth are shield volcanoes. The three aligned volcanoes are located along a topographic rise in the Tharsis region. Along this trend there are increased tectonic features and additional lava flows.

Pavonis Mons is the smallest of the four volcanoes, rising 14 km above the mean Mars surface level with a width of 375 km. It has a complex summit caldera, with the smallest caldera deeper than the larger caldera. Like most shield volcanoes the surface has a low profile. In the case of Pavonis Mons the average slope is only 4 degrees.

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: Looming mesas

1869-mastcamA1Sol 1869, November 8, 2017. Images from Curiosity’s Mastcam’s wide-angle lens show the layered hills and mesas standing behind and above the rocks of Vera Rubin Ridge (above). Below are the slabby rocks, many with light mineral veins, lying in front of the rover. Click either image to enlarge it.

Sol 1869 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

1869-mastcamB

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Opportunity: Looking down the valley channel

4903-pancam5Sol 4903, November 9, 2017. Rover controllers used the Pancam to start taking a series of images that look downhill over a portion of Perseverance Valley’s channel and Opportunity’s wheel tracks. Click image to enlarge it.

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

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HiRISE: Channel system near Airy Crater

tumblr_oyutqpFVST1rlz4gso4_1280Channel system near Airy Crater. Beautiful Mars series.

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Curiosity update: Back in the groove

NRB_563417709EDR_F0662312NCAM00353M_-br2Sol 1870-71, November 8, 2017, update by MSL scientist Rachel Kronyak: Above is a Navcam image of Curiosity’s location after a successful drive on Sol 1869. The shadows show the Robotic Arm (RA) and turret on the left, and the Remote Sensing Mast (RSM) to the lower right. I can’t help but think that Curiosity is giving us a “high-five” for another stellar drive!

Today we planned a jam-packed 2 sols of remote and contact science as we continue our journey along the Vera Rubin Ridge (VRR). On the first sol, Sol 1870, we’ll do a ChemCam observation on the bedrock target “Waboomberg,” followed by some Mastcam imaging of nearby VRR features, including exposed rock layers and light-colored bedrock. We’ll then use the DRT to brush the surface on target “Platberg,” which is followed by MAHLI imaging and an APXS analysis. We’ll do additional APXS and MAHLI observations on Waboomberg… [More at link]

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THEMIS: High-volume lava tube, Pavonis Mons

High-volume lava tube on Pavonis Mons (THEMIS_IOTD_20171109)THEMIS Image of the Day, November 9, 2017. This image shows the southern flank of Pavonis Mons. The large sinuous channel at the bottom of the image is located at the uppermost part of the volcano where collapse features are following the regional linear trend. A lava tube of this size indicates a high volume of lava.

Pavonis Mons is one of the three aligned Tharsis Volcanoes. The four Tharsis volcanoes are Ascreaus Mons, Pavonis Mons, Arsia Mons, and Olympus Mars. All four are shield type volcanoes. Shield volcanoes are formed by lava flows originating near or at the summit, building up layers upon layers of lava. The Hawaiian islands on Earth are shield volcanoes. The three aligned volcanoes are located along a topographic rise in the Tharsis region. Along this trend there are increased tectonic features and additional lava flows.

Pavonis Mons is the smallest of the four volcanoes, rising 14 km above the mean Mars surface level with a width of 375 km. It has a complex summit caldera, with the smallest caldera deeper than the larger caldera. Like most shield volcanoes the surface has a low profile. In the case of Pavonis Mons the average slope is only 4 degrees.

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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