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Mars rover says: 'good evening gale crater!'

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New image from HIRISE:



At the edge of Mars’ permanent North Polar cap, we see an exposure of the internal layers, each with a different mix of water ice, dust and dirt. These layers are believed to correspond to different climate conditions over the past tens of thousands of years. When we zoom in closer, we see that the distinct layers erode differently. Some are stronger and more resistant to erosion, others only weakly cemented. The strong layers form ledges.

New images from Curiosity:







25 facts

 
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Latest discoveries by Los Alamos National Lab




Latest mind-blowing pictures by HIRISE team:



Mawrth Vallis



Lethe Vallis, an outflow channel that transported lava



Kaiser Crater hosts a large field of sand dunes. Every winter the dunes are covered with a layer of seasonal dry ice. In early spring the ice begins to sublimate.
 
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NASA released new Martian images taken by Curiosity and Opportunity rovers.









Lol it's like entire Mars is made of sandstone
 
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This image from Curiosity's Mast Camera shows inclined strata at Zabriskie Plateau, about 0.5 km northeast of the 'Pahrump Hills' outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp, the central peak within the Gale Crater on Mars. These sedimentary rocks are inclined toward the south and are also interpreted as the deposits of small deltas building out into a lake.



This September 2016 self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at the "Quela" drilling location in the scenic "Murray Buttes" area on lower Mount Sharp. The panorama was stitched together from multiple images taken by the MAHLI camera at the end of the rover's arm.



This 360-degree panorama was acquired on Sept. 4, 2016, by the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover while the rover was in a scenic area called "Murray Buttes" on lower Mount Sharp.








Aug. 18, 2016, view of Mars' "Murray Buttes" region



The top of the butte in this Sept. 1, 2016 scene



This graphic maps locations of the sites where NASA's Curiosity Mars rover collected its first 18 rock or soil samples for laboratory analysis inside the vehicle.



This map shows the route driven by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover from the location where it landed in August 2012 to its location in September 2016 at "Murray Buttes," and the path planned for reaching destinations at "Hematite Unit" and "Clay Unit" on lower Mount Sharp.



Chemistry that takes place in the Martian surface material can explain why particular xenon (Xe) and krypton (Kr) isotopes are more abundant in the planet's atmosphere than expected.

 
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This image shows a transition from depressed to inverted channels in the Gorgonum Basin.



Tharsis region of Mars is covered in vast lava flows, many with channels. Some channels, however, resemble features that may have been formed by water.
 
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NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is studying its surroundings and monitoring the environment, rather than driving or using its arm for science, while the rover team diagnoses an issue with a motor that moves the rover's drill.

Curiosity is at a site on lower Mount Sharp selected for what would be the mission's seventh sample-collection drilling of 2016. The rover team learned Dec. 1 that Curiosity did not complete the commands for drilling. The rover detected a fault in an early step in which the "drill feed" mechanism did not extend the drill to touch the rock target with the bit.

"We are in the process of defining a set of diagnostic tests to carefully assess the drill feed mechanism. We are using our test rover here on Earth to try out these tests before we run them on Mars," Curiosity Deputy Project Manager Steven Lee, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said Monday. "To be cautious, until we run the tests on Curiosity, we want to restrict any dynamic changes that could affect the diagnosis. That means not moving the arm and not driving, which could shake it."



Two among the set of possible causes being assessed are that a brake on the drill feed mechanism did not disengage fully or that an electronic encoder for the mechanism's motor did not function as expected. Lee said that workarounds may exist for both of those scenarios, but the first step is to identify why the motor did not operate properly last week.

The drill feed mechanism pushes the front of the drill outward from the turret of tools at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. The drill collects powdered rock that is analyzed by laboratory instruments inside the rover. While arm movements and driving are on hold, the rover is using cameras and a spectrometer on its mast, and a suite of environmental monitoring capabilities.

At the rover's current location, it has driven 9.33 miles (15.01 kilometers) since landing inside Mars' Gale Crater in August 2012. That includes more than half a mile (more than 840 meters) since departing a cluster of scenic mesas and buttes -- called "Murray Buttes" -- in September 2016. Curiosity has climbed 541 feet (165 meters) in elevation since landing, including 144 feet (44 meters) since departing Murray Buttes.

The rover is climbing to sequentially higher and younger layers of lower Mount Sharp to investigate how the region's ancient climate changed, billions of years ago. Clues about environmental conditions are recorded in the rock layers. During its first year on Mars, the mission succeeded at its main goal by finding that the region once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, if Mars has ever hosted life. The conditions in long-lived ancient freshwater Martian lake environments included all of the key chemical elements needed for life as we know it, plus a chemical source of energy that is used by many microbes on Earth.

Curiosity's drill, as used at all 15 of the rock targets drilled so far, combines hammering action and rotating-bit action to penetrate the targets and collect sample material. The drilling attempt last week was planned as the mission's first using a non-percussion drilling method that relies only on the drill's rotary action. Short-circuiting in the percussion mechanism has occurred intermittently and unpredictably several times since first seen in February 2015.

"We still have percussion available, but we would like to be cautious and use it for targets where we really need it, and otherwise use rotary-only where that can give us a sample," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada at JPL.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/curiosity-rover-team-examining-new-drill-hiatus
 
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it's a news but too bad

Mars rover’s drill out of action

The rock-coring drill fixed to the end of the Curiosity rover’s robot arm has suspended operations to allow engineers on the ground to diagnose, and officials hope correct, a problem traced to the mechanism that pushes the drill bit onto rocks to collect powder samples.

Rover controllers based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, first encountered the issue Dec. 1 when Curiosity was unable to complete a planned drilling on the lower flank of Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high (5-kilometer) mountain the robot is climbing to study how the environment evolved on ancient Mars.

Managers decided to keep the six-wheeled rover in its current position — prohibiting driving and use of its robotic arm — until experts can determine the cause of the problem.

Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at JPL, said the ground team believes the issue has been traced to a brake on the drill feed mechanism, which is supposed to extend and place the drill bit on the surface of the rock targeted for drilling.

“You press against the surface to keep the drill in place, and then a mechanism moves the actual drill up and down to do the drilling,” Vasavada said in a press conference Dec. 13 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “That’s called the drill feed. That mechanism exhibited a stall … and since then we’ve been running activities on the rover to diagnose that issue.”


Engineers originally thought the problem might be rooted in an encoder associated with electrical sensors that tell the rover’s computer how the drill is functioning. Vasavada said the problem apparently is with the brake, which is “very much internal to the motor itself.”

Vasavada said Curiosity’s team had “partial success” in unstalling the drill feed, but now the problem is recurring.

“It went away and we were very excited, but then it unfortunately has returned again in just the last day or so,” Vasavada told reporters last week. “We’re in the process of still figuring out how to go recover the operation of that drill feed.”


Curiosity’s drill works by boring into rock targets with a combination of a percussive, hammering motion and the rotation of the drill bit. Rock powder excavated by the drill goes into a collection chamber, where the material is sifted and sieved for delivery to miniature laboratory instruments on the rover’s science deck.

The target selected for drilling more than two weeks ago was to be the 16th rock drilled by the rover since it landed on Mars in August 2012. It would have been the seventh drilling operation of 2016, according to NASA.

Ground controllers programmed the drill to only use its rotating mechanism on the latest sampling attempt. The percussive mechanism that chisels into rock has had an intermittent electrical short since early 2015, and while that function is still available, officials prefer to avoid using it unless necessary.

“We still have percussion available, but we would like to be cautious and use it for targets where we really need it, and otherwise use rotary-only where that can give us a sample,” Vasavada said in a press release.

Rock samples collected by the drill feed two of Curiosity’s main science instruments — the Sample Analysis at Mars payload and the Chemistry and Mineralogy package — to look for organic materials and measure mineral content.

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/12/18/mars-rovers-drill-out-of-action/
 
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Sols 1579-1582: A 4-sol plan


After a 25-meter drive on Sol 1578, MSL is surrounded by more dark sand than usual, but there is enough rock exposed that we had a lot of science targets to choose from today. Due to the US holiday on Monday, we are planning 4 sols today. The first sol will include only REMS atmospheric observations while the rover recharges after the SAM methane measurement the night before, but the rest of the plan is packed! Sol 1580 starts with ChemCam passive (no laser) measurements of the sky and calibration targets. Then we'll use the laser to zap rock targets "Oak Bay" and "Rockport" and take Right Mastcam images of them. Mastcam will also acquire a mosaic of bedrock exposures just west of the rover, measure dust in the atmosphere, and take another image of the rover deck. Later that afternoon, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe disturbed sand at "Kennebec," an undisturbed ripple called "Spruce Top," and bedrock targets named "Traveler" and "Mars Hill." Right Mastcam will also acquire a 3x1 mosaic of a more distant outcrop dubbed "Ogler Point."

Sol 1581 is dominated by contact science, starting with full suite of MAHLI images of Mars Hill. MAHLI will also take close-up images of nearby "Camera Hill" and acquire a 3-image mosaic of the layered outcrop target "Small Falls." The APXS will be placed on Camera Hill for a short integration, then on Mars Hill for an overnight integration.

On Sol 1582, Navcam will search for clouds and dust devils before the rover drives away. After the drive, AEGIS will again be used to autonomously select a ChemCam target and acquire data, and MARDI will take another image during twilight. Finally, the rover will get some well-earned rest overnight.

http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/
 

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The Curiosity rover has spotted a peculiar rock on the red planet that could be a rare iron-nickel meteorite.

A raw image shared on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory site reveals an unusual, dimpled grey rock with a metallic luster laying on the ground in the Mount Sharp region of Mars.
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/


If confirmed as a meteorite, the object would be the third Curiosity has discovered since it began its mission over four years ago.




Among the telling signs that this could be a meteorite are the ‘dimples’ speckling the strange rock, Universe Today explains.

These could be regmaglypts – indentations created as the object plunges through a planet’s atmosphere, stripping it of some of its minerals.

Curiosity captured the image on January 12 at 11:21 UT using the colour mast camera, but shiny spots on the rock’s surface suggest it also used its ChemCam laser to investigate the object.

In this process, the rover fires a laser at the rock to vaporize part of its surface, allowing its spectrometer to analyze the resulting plasma cloud, Universe Today explains.

And, the shimmer seen in the image also supports the idea that the rock is made of iron-nickel.
 

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https://phys.org/news/2017-03-mars-rover-wheel.html

"A routine check of the aluminum wheels on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has found two small breaks on the rover's left middle wheel—the latest sign of wear and tear as the rover continues its journey, now approaching the 10-mile (16 kilometer) mark."
 
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@Drone not sure if this was posted. Here is a HD landing of Curiosity @30 FPS

 
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Mars has great potential. These images look like Earth. NICE.
 
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Sol 2063-2066: Sample drop-off testing



Some of the Duluth drill sample was dropped into CheMin on Sol 2061, but not enough for a proper mineralogical analysis. So the top priority for today's plan is to again test the new drop-off procedure. Since the drill feed mechanism became unreliable over a year ago, drill samples can no longer be sieved and processed in CHIMRA, as they were earlier in the mission. Instead, portions of the sample must be dropped from the tip of the drill directly into the analytical instruments. This new Feed-Extended Sample Transfer (FEST) procedure will be repeated on Sol 2064, over bedrock and over the closed SAM inlet cover. Mastcam images will be taken both before and after the drop-off in both locations, to allow the size of the sample portion to be estimated. The results of these tests will be used to inform future drop-off planning.

We're planning 4 sols today so that the tactical operations team can take a day off for the Memorial Day holiday. More change detection observations are scattered throughout the plan, with Right Mastcam images of dark sand ripples at "Noodle Lake" and the Duluth drill tailings on Sol 2063 at 11:00, 15:00 and 17:00, on Sol 2064 at 7:00 and noon, and on Sol 2065 at 7:00, ~11:00, noon, and 15:00. The goal of these observations is to constrain the frequency of wind gusts that are strong enough to move loose material. The Rover Planners also requested multiple Right Mastcam images of the sample drop-off location on nearby bedrock for the same purpose; these are scheduled in the afternoons of Sols 2063, 2065, and 2066. ChemCam will also be busy this weekend, measuring the chemistry of a bumpy bedrock target named "Brule Mountain" and layered bedrock targets "Devil Track" and "Devilfish Tower" on Sol 2063. The latter two targets will be captured in a single Right Mastcam image soon afterward. On Sol 2064, ChemCam will observe some pebbles dubbed "Paupores" and Right Mastcam will acquire a single image covering both Brule Mountain and Paupores. Early on Sol 2065, Mastcam and Navcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and Navcam will search for clouds. Later that morning, Right Mastcam will take a picture of a nearby bedrock block dubbed "Deerwood." In the afternoon, Mastcam will image the Sun and sky to measure the scattering properties and size distribution of dust in the atmosphere over Gale Crater, with supporting Navcam imaging.

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/

just found something that interesting

A selfie on Mars, taken by NASA's Mars rover, Curiosity, on January 23, 2018, or Sol 1943, using its Mars Hand Lens Imager. Image stitched together from a series of panoramic images; sky artificially extended


Two sizes of wind-sculpted ripples are evident in this view of the top surface of a Martian sand dune. Sand dunes and the smaller type of ripples also exist on Earth. The larger ripples—roughly 10 feet (three meters) apart—are a type not seen on Earth nor previously recognized as a distinct type on Mars. The mast camera (mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity rover took the multiple component images of this scene on December 13, 2015, during the 1,192nd Martian day of the rover's work on Mars.The location is part of Namib Dune in the Bagnold Dune Field, which forms a dark band along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp


This image was taken by Curiosity's mastcam on Sol 1648, or March 26, 2017


Curiosity pauses at the site from which it reached down to drill into a rock target called "Buckskin" on lower Mount Sharp in this low-angle self-portrait taken August 5, 2015, and released August 19, 2015. The selfie combines several component images taken by Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the 1,065th Martian day of the rover's work on Mars


Curiosity recorded this view of the sun setting at the close of the mission's 956th Martian day, on April 15, 2015, from the rover's location in Gale Crater, Mars.


On September 9, 2012, when it was just starting out, a close view of two of the left wheels of Curiosity. In the distance is the lower slope of Mount Sharp


Years later, on April 18, 2016, NASA used the MAHLI camera to check the condition of the wheels once again. This image of Curiosity's left-middle and left-rear wheels is part of an inspection set taken during Sol 1,315. Holes and tears in the wheels worsened significantly during 2013 as Curiosity was crossing terrain studded with sharp rocks on its route near its 2012 landing site to the base of Mount Sharp. Team members are keeping a close eye for when any of the zig-zag-shaped treads, call grousers, begin to break. Longevity testing with identical wheels on Earth indicates that when three grousers on a given wheel have broken, that wheel has reached about 60 percent of its useful mileage. Curiosity's six aluminum wheels are about 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide. Each of the six wheels has its own drive motor, and the four corner wheels also have steering motors



https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2018/01/2000-days-on-mars-with-the-curiosity-rover/551984/
 
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