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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover moves across difficult terrain on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has nearly finished crossing a stretch of the most rugged and difficult-to-navigate terrain encountered during the mission’s 44 months on Mars.

The rover climbed onto the “Naukluft Plateau” of lower Mount Sharp in early March after spending several weeks investigating sand dunes. The plateau’s sandstone bedrock has been carved by eons of wind erosion into ridges and knobs. The path of about a quarter mile (400 meters) westward across it is taking Curiosity toward smoother surfaces leading to geological layers of scientific interest farther uphill.

This early-morning view from the Mastcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on March 16, 2016, covers a portion of the inner wall of Gale Crater. At right, the image fades into glare of the rising sun. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This early-morning view from the Mastcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on March 16, 2016, covers a portion of the inner wall of Gale Crater. At right, the image fades into glare of the rising sun. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover tackles highest angled slope ever attempted on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s long-lived Mars rover Opportunity is driving to an alternative hillside target after a climb on the steepest slope ever tackled by any Mars rover. Opportunity could not quite get within reach of a target researchers hoped the rover could touch earlier this month.

A new image shows the view overlooking the valley below and catches the rover’s own shadow and wheel tracks as Opportunity heads toward its next target.

A shadow and tracks of NASA's Mars rover Opportunity appear in this March 22, 2016, image, which has been rotated 13.5 degrees to adjust for the tilt of the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A shadow and tracks of NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity appear in this March 22, 2016, image, which has been rotated 13.5 degrees to adjust for the tilt of the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA picks Researchers to take part in Curiosity Mars Rover mission

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has selected 28 researchers as participating scientists for the Curiosity Mars rover mission, including six newcomers to the rover’s science team.

The six new additions work in Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Tennessee. Eighty-nine scientists around the world submitted research proposals for using data from Curiosity and becoming participating scientists on the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates the rover.

Patches of Martian sandstone visible in the lower-left and upper portions of this March 9, 2016, view from the Mast Camera of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have a knobbly texture due to nodules apparently more resistant to erosion than the host rock in which some are still embedded. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Patches of Martian sandstone visible in the lower-left and upper portions of this March 9, 2016, view from the Mast Camera of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover have a knobbly texture due to nodules apparently more resistant to erosion than the host rock in which some are still embedded. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover travels up steep slope on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is working adeptly in some of the most challenging terrain of the vehicle’s 12 years on Mars, on a slope of about 30 degrees.

Researchers are using Opportunity this month to examine rocks that may have been chemically altered by water billions of years ago. The mission’s current targets of investigation are from ruddy-tinted swaths the researchers call “red zones,” in contrast to tan bedrock around these zones.

The targets lie on “Knudsen Ridge,” atop the southern flank of “Marathon Valley,” which slices through the western rim of Endeavour Crater.

This scene from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks upward at "Knudsen Ridge" from the valley below. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This scene from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looks upward at “Knudsen Ridge” from the valley below. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover continues investigating sand dunes at Mount Sharp

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The latest self-portrait from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the car-size mobile laboratory beside a dark dune where it has been scooping and sieving samples of sand.

The new selfie combines 57 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of Curiosity’s arm on January 19th.

The rover has been investigating a group of active sand dunes for two months, studying how the wind moves and sorts sand particles on Mars. The site is part of Bagnold Dune Field, which lines the northwestern flank of Mars’ Mount Sharp.

This Jan. 19, 2016, self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at "Namib Dune," where the rover's activities included scuffing into the dune with a wheel and scooping samples of sand for laboratory analysis. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This Jan. 19, 2016, self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at “Namib Dune,” where the rover’s activities included scuffing into the dune with a wheel and scooping samples of sand for laboratory analysis. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover keeps busy during Martian Winter

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, worked through the lowest-solar-energy days of the mission’s seventh Martian winter, while using a diamond-toothed rock grinder and other tools in recent weeks to investigate clues about the Red Planet’s environmental history.

The modern Mars environment lent a hand, providing wind that removed some dust from Opportunity’s solar panels in the weeks before and after the Mars southern hemisphere’s winter solstice on January 2nd.

The target beneath the tool turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm in this image from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is "Private John Potts." (NASA)

The target beneath the tool turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm in this image from NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is “Private John Potts.” (NASA)

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NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover samples sand from Namib Dune on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – At its current location for inspecting an active sand dune, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is adding some sample-processing moves not previously used on Mars.

Sand from the second and third samples the rover is scooping from “Namib Dune” will be sorted by grain size with two sieves. The coarser sieve is making its debut, and using it also changes the way the treated sample is dropped into an inlet port for laboratory analysis inside the rover.

Positioning of the rover to grab a bite of the dune posed a challenge, too. Curiosity reached this sampling site, called “Gobabeb,” on January 12th.

This view captures Curiosity's current work area where the rover continues its campaign to study an active sand dune on Mars. This site is part of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes along the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This view captures Curiosity’s current work area where the rover continues its campaign to study an active sand dune on Mars. This site is part of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes along the northwestern flank of Mars’ Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover maneuvers to other side of Martian Dune

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, partway through the first up-close study ever conducted of extraterrestrial sand dunes, is providing dramatic views of a dune’s steep face, where cascading sand has sculpted very different textures than the wavy ripples visible on the dune’s windward slope.

Researchers are using Curiosity to examine examples of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes lining the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp, the layered mountain the rover is climbing.

This view from NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover shows the downwind side of a dune about 13 feet high within the Bagnold Dunes field on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This view from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover shows the downwind side of a dune about 13 feet high within the Bagnold Dunes field on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Asteroid to safely fly by Earth on Christmas Eve

 

Written by DC Agle / Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Asteroid 2003 SD220 will safely fly past Earth on December 24th at a distance of 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers). Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have generated the highest-resolution images to date of this asteroid using the Deep Space Network’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at Goldstone, California.

The radar images were acquired between December 17th and December 22nd, when the distance to this near-Earth object (NEO) was narrowing from 7.3 million miles (12 million kilometers) to almost the flyby distance.

These images of an asteroid 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) long were taken on Dec. 17 (left) and Dec. 22 by scientists using NASA's giant Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California. This asteroid will safely fly past Earth on Dec. 24, at a distance of 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR)

These images of an asteroid 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) long were taken on Dec. 17 (left) and Dec. 22 by scientists using NASA’s giant Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California. This asteroid will safely fly past Earth on Dec. 24, at a distance of 6.8 million miles (11 million kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR)

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NASA’s InSight Spacecraft moved to Vandenberg Air Force Base to begin preparations for Launch

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s next Mars spacecraft has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for final preparations before a launch scheduled in March 2016 and a landing on Mars six months later.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built and tested the spacecraft and delivered it on December 16th from Buckley Air Force Base in Denver to Vandenberg, on the central California Coast.

Preparations are on a tight schedule for launch during the period March 4th through March 30th. The work ahead includes installation and testing of one of the mission’s key science instruments, its seismometer, which is scheduled for delivery to Vandenberg in January.

A crate containing NASA's Mars-bound InSight spacecraft is loaded into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin)

A crate containing NASA’s Mars-bound InSight spacecraft is loaded into a C-17 cargo aircraft at Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin)

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