HiRISE: Sliding ice block dunes

tumblr_oqxwywBnpk1rlz4gso1_1280Sliding ice block dunes. Beautiful Mars series.

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Opportunity: Checking the valley channel

4786-pancamBSol 4786, July 11, 2017. The Pancam took a series of shots looking down the channel of Perseverance Valley. The round feature in the right foreground may be a small and much eroded impact crater. Click image (5.4 MB) to enlarge it.

The mission’s current Status Report notes, “Opportunity is in ‘Perseverance Valley’ on the west rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover has arrived at the location within the valley where she will spend the approximately three-week solar conjunction period…” [More at link]

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

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Curiosity update: Science flowing through our veins

NRB_553120980EDR_F0642442NCAM00312M_-br2Sol 1754, July 12, 2017, update by MSL scientist Abigail Fraeman: Today on Mars we planned a typical “drive sol” that involved a bit of pre-drive science followed by a drive and some post-drive untargeted observations. There were a variety of light and dark colored veins near the rover that were visible in the Navcam images, so the science team decided to spend our pre-drive science time investigating the chemistry and morphology of these features. The coordinated ChemCam and Mastcam observations we planned on light and dark veins in targets named “Hockomock Bay” and “Hells Half Acre” should get the job done. We’ll also take a Mastcam-only observation of dark layers in a target named “High Sheriff.”

The next major chunk of time in Sol 1754 will be spent driving towards Vera Rubin Ridge. Today I was staffed as a surface properties scientist, which means I helped advise the rover drivers on any geologic features in the terrain that could present mobility challenges. We’ll be driving through a bunch of fractured bedrock and sandy areas as we head closer to our third official Vera Rubin Ridge approach imaging location. Because we’ve seen such spectacular sedimentary structures in our previous images of the ridge, we decided to try to get as close as possible to the vertical exposures of the lower portion of the Vera Rubin Ridge for this imaging stop – I can’t wait until we get there…. [More at link]

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THEMIS: Melas Chasma landslide in false color

Melas Chasma landslide false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20170713)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 13, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of Melas Chasma, along with a gigantic landslide where part of the canyon rim has collapsed.

The THEMIS 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: Mars and the amazing Technicolor ejecta blanket

ESP_050281_1505A close-up image shows the exposed bedrock of an ejecta blanket of an unnamed crater in the Mare Serpentis region of Mars. Ejecta, when exposed, are truly an eye-opening feature, as they reveal the sometimes exotic subsurface, and materials created by impacts. This ejecta shares similarities to others found elsewhere on Mars, which are of particular scientific interest for the extent of exposure and diverse colors. (For example, the Hargraves Crater ejecta, in the Nili Fossae trough region, was once considered as a candidate landing site for the next NASA Mars rover 2020.

The colors observed in this picture represent different rocks and minerals, now exposed on the surface. Blue in HiRISE infrared color images generally depicts iron-rich minerals, like olivine and pyroxene. Lighter colors, such as yellow, indicate the presence of altered rocks… [More at link]

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Curiosity: Imaging the ramp up to the ridge

1752-mastcam34Sol 1752, July 11, 2017. The Mastcam in its wide-angle mode made a multi-frame composite showing the “ramp” that Curiosity will likely use as it climbs up onto Vera Rubin Ridge. Below, the Remote Micro-Imager shot a 10-frame sequence along part of the ridge to detail its layers and mineralized seams. (Click either image to enlarge it.)

Sol 1752 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

1752-rmi

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Curiosity begins study of Vera Rubin Ridge

PIA21716The car-size NASA rover on a Martian mountain, Curiosity, has begun its long-anticipated study of an iron-bearing ridge forming a distinctive layer on the mountain’s slope.

Since before Curiosity’s landing five years ago next month, this feature has been recognized as one of four unique terrains on lower Mount Sharp and therefore a key mission destination. Curiosity’s science team informally named it “Vera Rubin Ridge” this year, commemorating astronomer Vera Cooper Rubin (1928-2016).

“Our Vera Rubin Ridge campaign has begun,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “Curiosity is driving parallel to the ridge, below it, observing it from different angles as we work our way toward a safe route to the top of the ridge.”

A major appeal of the ridge is an iron-oxide mineral, hematite, which can form under wet conditions and reveal information about ancient environments. Hematite-bearing rocks elsewhere on Mars were the scientific basis for choosing the 2004 landing site of an older and still-active rover, Opportunity. Studies of Mount Sharp with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, identified hematite in the ridge and also mapped water-related clay and sulfate minerals in layers just above it.

Vera Rubin Ridge stands about eight stories tall, with a trough behind it where clay minerals await. Curiosity is now near the downhill face, which forms an impressive wall for much of the ridge’s length of about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers).

“In this first phase of the campaign, we’re studying the sedimentary structures in the wall,” said JPL’s Abigail Fraeman, a Curiosity science-team member who helped plan these observations… [More at link]

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HiRISE: Dragon scales of Mars

ESP_050275_1500This intriguing surface texture is the result of rock interacting with water. The rock was then eroded and later exposed to the surface. The pinkish, almost dragon-like scaled texture represents Martian bedrock that has specifically altered into a clay-bearing rock.

The nature of the water responsible for the alteration, and how it interacted with the rock to form the clay remains poorly understood. Not surprisingly, the study of such altered rocks on Mars is an area of active investigation by the Mars science community. Understanding such interactions, and how they happened, help scientists to understand the past climate on Mars, and if the red planet ever harbored life… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Lohse Crater’s central peaks

Lohse Crater in false color (THEMIS_IOTD_20170712)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 12, 2017. Today’s false color image shows part of the floor of Lohse Crater in Noachis Terra. This large crater has several central peaks that cluster and almost form a ring.

The THEMIS 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: Short drive eastward

1752-navcamSol 1752, July 11, 2017. Curiosity drove about 10 meters (35 feet) eastward, positioning itself just about clear of the sandy ripple patch. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Sol 1752 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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