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Mars rover says: 'good evening gale crater!'

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New page, new year, fresh pictures






Elorza Crater is an approximately 40-km diameter complex crater located at 304.8 degrees east, 8.76 degrees north, about 300 km north of Coprates Chasma. This image centers on the southwestern portion of the central uplift, and is characterized by numerous bedrock exposures and coherent impact melt flows.

 
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Fantastic photos! This is my first post on this forum. I hope this is an appropriate question to ask...

Just wondering, what are these objects that appear in the sky? Possibly moons, sattelites, or dust particles on the lens?




 
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Just wondering, what are these objects that appear in the sky? Possibly moons, sattelites, or dust particles on the lens?
Nice question. Looks like an artifact or like you said maybe just a piece of dust on the lens.



New images:






The Eastern Portion of Cerberus Fossae

 
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Did they swap it's failing memory out yet? or is that still a mission in progress?
 

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Drill Hole



27 months of driving



A view of Curiosity's first meteorite discovery on Mars. These iron meteorites, called Lebanon (larger rock) and Lebanon B (smaller rock in foreground) were discovered by Curiosity on May 25, 2014. The larger Lebanon rock is nearly 7 feet (2 meters) wide.
 
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Curiosity rover drills rock sample at Mount Sharp


This hole, with a diameter slightly smaller than a U.S. dime coin, was drilled by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover into a rock target called “Telegraph Peak,” within the basal layer of Mount Sharp. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used its drill on Tuesday, 24 February to collect sample powder from inside a rock target called “Telegraph Peak.” The target sits in the upper portion of “Pahrump Hills,” an outcrop the mission has been investigating for five months.

The Pahrump Hills campaign previously drilled at two other sites. The outcrop is an exposure of bedrock that forms the basal layer of Mount Sharp. Curiosity’s extended mission, which began last year after a two-year prime mission, is examing layers of this mountain that are expected to hold records of how ancient wet environments on Mars evolved into drier environments.

The rover team is planning to drive Curiosity away from Pahrump Hills in coming days, exiting through a narrow valley called “Artist’s Drive,” which will lead the rover along a strategically planned route higher on the basal layer of Mount Sharp.

The Telegraph Peak site was selected after the team discussed the large set of physical and chemical measurements acquired throughout the campaign. In particular, measurements of the chemistry of the Telegraph Peak site, using the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) on the rover’s arm, motivated selection of this target for drilling before the departure from Pahrump Hills.

Compared to the chemistry of rocks and soils that Curiosity assessed before reaching Mount Sharp, the rocks of Pahrump Hills are relatively enriched in the element silicon in proportion to the amounts of the elements aluminum and magnesium. The latest drilling site exhibits that characteristic even more strongly than the earlier two, which were lower in the outcrop.

“When you graph the ratios of silica to magnesium and silica to aluminum, ‘Telegraph Peak’ is toward the end of the range we’ve seen,” said Curiosity co-investigator Doug Ming, of NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston. “It’s what you would expect if there has been some acidic leaching. We want to see what minerals are present where we found this chemistry.”

The rock-powder sample from Telegraph Peak goes to the rover’s internal Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument for identification of the minerals. After that analysis, the team may also choose to deliver sample material to Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite of laboratory instruments.

The sample-collection drilling at Telegraph Peak was the first in Curiosity’s 30 months on Mars to be conducted without a preliminary “mini drill” test of the rock’s suitability for drilling. The team judged full-depth drilling to be safe for the drill based on similarities of the target to the previous Pahrump Hills targets. The rover used a low-percussion-level drilling technique that it first used on the previous drilling target, “Mojave 2.”

Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp after two years of examining other sites inside Gale Crater and driving toward the mountain at the crater’s centre.


http://astronomynow.com/2015/02/28/curiosity-rover-drills-rock-sample-at-mount-sharp/
 

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is back in action for the first time after suffering a glitch late last month.





The 1-ton Curiosity rover transferred powdered rock sample from its robotic arm to an analytical instrument on its body on Wednesday (March 11), and then drove about 33 feet (10 meters) toward the southwest on Thursday (March 12), NASA officials said.

Curiosity had been stationary since Feb. 27, when it experienced a short circuit while attempting to transfer the sample, which the rover had collected from a rock dubbed Telegraph Peak.


More here
http://www.space.com/28823-mars-rover-curiosity-short-circuit-drive.html?cmpid=559178
 
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Nasa's Curiosity rover finds water below surface of Mars



Mars has liquid water just below its surface, according to new measurements by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.

Until now, scientists had thought that conditions on the red planet were too cold and arid for liquid water to exist, although there were known to be deposits of ice.

Prof Andrew Coates, head of planetary science at the Mullard Space Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, said: “The evidence so far is that any water would be in the form of permafrost. It’s the first time we’ve had evidence of liquid water there now.”

The latest findings suggest that Martian soil is damp with liquid brine, due to the presence of a salt that significantly lowers the freezing point of water. When mixed with calcium perchlorate liquid water can exist down to around -70C, and the salt also soaks up water vapour from the atmosphere.

New measurements from the Gale crater show that during winter nights until just after sunrise, temperatures and humidity levels are just right for liquid brine to form.

Morten Bo Madsen, a senior Mars scientist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-investigator on the Curiosity rover, said: “The soil is porous, so what we are seeing is that the water seeps down through the soil. Over time, other salts may also dissolve in the soil and now that they are liquid, they can move and precipitate elsewhere under the surface.”

Liquid water is traditionally considered an essential ingredient for life as we known it, but Mars remains hostile for other reasons, the scientists said. The latest findings are unlikely to change the view that if life ever blossomed on Mars, it probably died out more than a billion years ago.

“There are organisms on Earth, halophiles, that can survive in salty environments, but if it’s also very cold and very dry that’s a problem” said Madsen. “The radiation on Mars nails it – that environment is very hostile.”

Related: Methane on Mars: does it mean the Curiosity rover has found life?

Prof Coates agreed: “Liquid water is one of the conditions you need for life, it’s not all of them.”

On Earth, the global magnetic field protects the atmosphere from being degraded by harmful cosmic radiation from the Sun. In the past, scientists believe that Mars had a similar magnetic field and thicker atmosphere, but that the field was lost around four billion years ago.

Today, cosmic radiation penetrates at least one metre into the Martian surface and would kill even the most robust microbes known on Earth.

Surface temperatures on Mars range from around 20C at noon, at the equator, down to lows of around −153C at the poles. The presence of perchlorate salts was discovered in 2008, but until now if was not known whether temperatures and humidity would be high enough to produce liquid brine.

The latest paper, published in Nature, analyses humidity and temperature data for a full Martian year, showing that liquid brine ought to form. Instruments on-board Curiosity also measured estimates of subsurface water concentration, which suggested that water was indeed being absorbed from the air and the surface frost by the salty soil.

The water would be present in tiny quantities between the grains of soil, rather than in droplet form. “If you dug a trench you might see that the soil at the base was a bit darker,” said Madsen.

Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012 in the large crater, Gale, located just south of the equator. The giant crater is 154 kilometres in diameter and the rim of the crater is almost five kilometres high.

In the middle of the crater lies Mount Sharp, which Curiosity is currently ascending.

Observations by the Mars probe’s stereo camera have previously shown areas characteristic of old riverbed, with rounded pebbles that indicate there were flowing rivers up to one metre deep in the past.

The latest close-up images show slanting expanses of sedimentary deposits, lying one above the other. “These kind of deposits are formed when large amounts of water flow down the slopes of the crater and these streams of water meet the stagnant water in the form of a lake,” said Madsen.




http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/13/nasas-curiosity-rover-finds-water-below-surface-of-mars
 
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NASA's Curiosity Rover Eyes Weird Rock On Mars



NASA's Mars rover Curiosity went out of its way to investigate a rock the likes of which it has never seen before on the Red Planet.

Measurements by Curiosity's rock-zapping ChemCam laser and another instrument revealed that the target, a chunk of bedrock dubbed Elk, contains high levels of silica and hydrogen, NASA officials said.

The abundance of silica — a silicon-oxygen compound commonly found here on Earth in the form of quartz — suggests that the bedrock may provide conditions conducive to the preservation of ancient carbon-containing organic molecules, if any exist in the area, the officials added. So Curiosity's handlers sent the rover back 151 feet (46 meters) to check Elk out. [Latest Amazing Mars Photos by NASA's Curiosity Rover]



"One never knows what to expect on Mars, but the Elk target was interesting enough to go back and investigate," ChemCam principal investigator Roger Wiens, of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said in a statement.

Elk lies near a spot on the lower reaches of the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) Mount Sharp, called Marias Pass, whose rocks Curiosity had been studying. Marias Pass is a "geological contact zone" where dark sandstone meets lighter mudstone.

"We found an outcrop named Missoula where the two rock types came together, but it was quite small and close to the ground," Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in the same statement. "We used the robotic arm to capture a dog's-eye view with the MAHLI [Mars Hand Lens Imager] camera, getting our nose right in there."





http://www.space.com/30062-mars-rover-curiosity-weird-rock.html
 
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duh moment.....:(:(
Wheel Worries: Mars Rover Curiosity Dealing With Damage



NASA's Mars rover Curiosity faces ongoing wheel wear and tear as it continues its trek across the rock-strewn Red Planet.

The car-size Curiosity rover has been on duty since landing on Mars in August 2012. Curiosity has six aluminum wheels, each with its own individual motor. The rover has a top speed on flat, hard ground of a little over 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) per second.

But dealing with the rocky Martian landscape has become somewhat of an unanticipated wheel of misfortune for the Curiosity crew. Back here on Earth, mission engineers are watching the wheels turn, keeping an eye on the dings and cracks that have begun to appear.

Grousing about grousers
"The bottom line is that we are monitoring the wheels all the time," said Jim Erickson, Curiosity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Each of Curiosity's wheels is about 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and 16 inches (40 cm) wide. The wheels have "grousers," forming something akin to a tread pattern. The skin of a rover wheel is just 0.03 inches (0.75 millimeters) thick, with the protruding grousers providing structural strength.

Erickson said that, to date, no grouser has been broken — and that's a good thing. "You can break one. It looks bad, but not horrible. We aren't there yet," he told Space.com.

Special wheel tests have been performed at JPL. Even with two-thirds of the inner part of the wheel gone, driving on that outer one-third of the wheel appears doable, Erickson said.

Uncertain wheel life
Curiosity's two front wheels began accumulating damage early in the mission.

That wear and tear continues, and now the rover's two middle wheels are showing major damage, Erickson said.

But "the rear wheels are still almost pristine," he said.

To help cope with the wheel situation, Curiosity engineers are looking at software changes on the vehicle, "to try and make things a little bit better," Erickson said. "They've had some good tests, but it's not ready for prime time yet."

The software could provide situational awareness to the wheels, Erickson said, matching wheel drive with electrical current, depending on what terrain the rover faces.

There remain uncertainties about how much overall wheel life is left onCuriosity, Erickson said. One helpful remedy is to carefully guide the robot through less-damaging terrain, he said.

Right balance
Team members spend significant amounts of time planning out Curiosity's routes, particularly making use of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its high-resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) camera system.

Finding the right balance between wheel protection and data collection is also on the mind of Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, also of JPL.

"Curiosity's engineering and science teams have spent over a year understanding how the rover's design and driving algorithms — and Mars' terrain — led to more wheel damage than was expected," Vasavada told Space.com. "We've also developed a wheel test bed to better predict how the wheels will degrade over time, under certain conditions."

In addition, Vasavada said that Curiosity teams have mapped out a network of routes up Mount Sharp — the 3.4-mile-high (5.5 kilometers) mountain whose foothills the rover is exploring — that vary in their scientific value and also in risk to the robot's wheels.

"This allows the project as a whole to find the right balance between our scientific progress and factors like wheel wear, slopes, navigability, etc.," Vasavada said. "It all looks quite optimistic and manageable at this point."

Erickson agrees.

From all of the simulation testing, "the wheel assessment is that we haven't used up 50 percent of the wheels as yet ... and we've been driving for three years. I guess I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic," Erickson said. "I am more resigned to the fact that we have a consumable."

http://www.space.com/29844-mars-rover-curiosity-wheel-damage.html
 
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Opportunity (rear view cam)



Curiosity (arm and ughm yeah whatever)



 
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