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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discovery of high concentrations of Silica on Mars puzzles Scientists

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – In detective stories, as the plot thickens, an unexpected clue often delivers more questions than answers. In this case, the scene is a mountain on Mars. The clue: the chemical compound silica. Lots of silica. The sleuths: a savvy band of Earthbound researchers whose agent on Mars is NASA’s laser-flashing, one-armed mobile laboratory, Curiosity.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found much higher concentrations of silica at some sites it has investigated in the past seven months than anywhere else it has visited since landing on Mars 40 months ago.

This May 22, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the "Marias Pass" area where a lower and older geological unit of mudstone -- the pale zone in the center of the image -- lies in contact with an overlying geological unit of sandstone. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This May 22, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the “Marias Pass” area where a lower and older geological unit of mudstone — the pale zone in the center of the image — lies in contact with an overlying geological unit of sandstone. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover studies Martian Sand Dunes near Mount Sharp

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has begun an up-close investigation of dark sand dunes up to two stories tall. The dunes are on the rover’s trek up the lower portion of a layered Martian mountain.

The dunes close to Curiosity’s current location are part of “Bagnold Dunes,” a band along the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater. Observations of this dune field from orbit show that edges of individual dunes move as much as 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year.

The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this Nov. 27, 2015, view of "High Dune" from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The rippled surface of the first Martian sand dune ever studied up close fills this Nov. 27, 2015, view of “High Dune” from the Mast Camera on NASA’s Curiosity rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA stops trying to communicate with Mars Rover Spirit

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA is ending attempts to regain contact with the long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, which last communicated on March 22nd, 2010.

A transmission that ended Wednesday, May 25th, is the last in a series of attempts. Extensive communications activities during the past 10 months also have explored the possibility that Spirit might reawaken as the solar energy available to it increased after a stressful Martian winter without much sunlight.

Artist concept of Mars Exploration Rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist concept of Mars Exploration Rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover to investigate Martian Sand Dunes

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On its way to higher layers of the mountain where it is investigating how Mars’ environment changed billions of years ago, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover will take advantage of a chance to study some modern Martian activity at mobile sand dunes.

In the next few days, the rover will get its first close-up look at these dark dunes, called the “Bagnold Dunes,” which skirt the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. No Mars rover has previously visited a sand dune, as opposed to smaller sand ripples or drifts.

This Sept. 25, 2015, view from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a dark sand dune in the middle distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This Sept. 25, 2015, view from the Mast Camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a dark sand dune in the middle distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover examines minerals on Mars

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists now have a better understanding about a site with the most chemically diverse mineral veins NASA’s Curiosity rover has examined on Mars, thanks in part to a valuable new resource scientists used in analyzing data from the rover.

Curiosity examined bright and dark mineral veins in March 2015 at a site called “Garden City,” where some veins protrude as high as two finger widths above the eroding bedrock in which they formed.

This March 27, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a site with a network of prominent mineral veins below a cap rock ridge on lower Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This March 27, 2015, view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a site with a network of prominent mineral veins below a cap rock ridge on lower Mount Sharp. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures images of regions on Mars used in movie, “The Martian”

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Images from a NASA Mars orbiter’s telescopic camera reveal details of real regions on Mars where a new Hollywood movie, “The Martian,” places future astronaut adventures.

The novel of the same name used actual locations on Mars for the landing sites for its “Ares 3” and “Ares 4” missions. The landing sites for “Ares 3” is on a Martian plain named Acidalia Planitia. The base for the “Ares 4” mission was set inside a crater named Schiaparelli.

This May 2015 image from the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a location on Mars associated with the best-selling novel and Hollywood movie, "The Martian." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

This May 2015 image from the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a location on Mars associated with the best-selling novel and Hollywood movie, “The Martian.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover drills hole in sandstone at Mount Sharp

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – On Tuesday, September 29th, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover drilled its eighth hole on Mars, and its fifth since reaching Mount Sharp one year ago.

The drilling of the hole 2.6-inches (65 millimeters) deep in a rock the team labeled “Big Sky” is part of a multi-day, multi-step sequence that will result in the analysis of the Martian rock’s ingredients in the rover’s two onboard laboratories – the Chemistry and Mineralogy X-Ray diffractometer (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA's Curiosity rover. In the foreground -- about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover -- is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA’s Curiosity rover. In the foreground — about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover — is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter confirms Liquid Flowing Water on Mars

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time.

They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

Dark, narrow streaks on Martian slopes such as these at Hale Crater are inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on contemporary Mars. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Dark, narrow streaks on Martian slopes such as these at Hale Crater are inferred to be formed by seasonal flow of water on contemporary Mars. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

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NASA to make announcement regarding Solving Major Mars Mystery

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA will detail a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars during a news briefing at 8:30am PDT (11:30am EDT) on Monday, September 28th.

The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Mars true-color globe showing Terra Meridiani. (NASA/Greg Shirah)

Mars true-color globe showing Terra Meridiani. (NASA/Greg Shirah)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity to work in Marathon Valley during the Martian Winter

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is conducting a “walkabout” survey of “Marathon Valley,” where the rover’s operators plan to use the vehicle through the upcoming Martian winter, and beyond, to study the context for outcrops bearing clay minerals.

Marathon Valley slices downhill from west to east for about 300 yards or meters through the western rim of Endeavour Crater. Opportunity has been investigating rock targets in the western portion of the valley since late July, working its way eastward in a thorough reconnaissance of the area.

This Martian scene shows contrasting textures and colors of "Hinners Point," at the northern edge of "Marathon Valley," and swirling reddish zones on the valley floor to the left. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

This Martian scene shows contrasting textures and colors of “Hinners Point,” at the northern edge of “Marathon Valley,” and swirling reddish zones on the valley floor to the left. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)

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