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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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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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