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Topic: Mars

NASA’s Mars InSight Lander will study the Deep Interior of Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars InSight lander team is preparing to ship the spacecraft from Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, where it was built and tested, to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where it will become the first interplanetary mission to launch from the West Coast. The project is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

NASA has a long and successful track record at Mars. Since 1965, it has flown by, orbited, landed and roved across the surface of the Red Planet. What can InSight — planned for launch in May — do that hasn’t been done before?

An artist's rendition of the InSight lander operating on the surface of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An artist’s rendition of the InSight lander operating on the surface of Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope to study Mars’ transition from Wet to Dry

 

Written by Christine Pulliam
Space Telescope Science Institute

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationBaltimore, MD –  The planet Mars has fascinated scientists for over a century. Today, it is a frigid desert world with a carbon dioxide atmosphere 100 times thinner than Earth’s. But evidence suggests that in the early history of our solar system, Mars had an ocean’s worth of water.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will study Mars to learn more about the planet’s transition from wet to dry, and what that means about its past and present habitability.

Hydrogen atoms escape from the Mars upper atmosphere, while water containing heavy hydrogen (deuterium) remains trapped on the planet. The escape of hydrogen helped to turn Mars from a wet planet 4.5 billion years ago into a dry world today. (NASA)

Hydrogen atoms escape from the Mars upper atmosphere, while water containing heavy hydrogen (deuterium) remains trapped on the planet. The escape of hydrogen helped to turn Mars from a wet planet 4.5 billion years ago into a dry world today. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity makes 5,000th Martian Dawn

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The Sun rose on NASA’s solar-powered Mars rover Opportunity for the 5,000th time on Saturday, sending rays of energy to a golf-cart-size robotic field geologist that continues to provide revelations about the Red Planet.

“Five thousand sols after the start of our 90-sol mission, this amazing rover is still showing us surprises on Mars,” said Opportunity Project Manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover's 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on Feb. 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ./Texas A&M)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity recorded the dawn of the rover’s 4,999th Martian day, or sol, with its Panoramic Camera (Pancam) on Feb. 15, 2018, yielding this processed, approximately true-color scene. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ./Texas A&M)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter puts itself into Standby Mode

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Status Report

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), at Mars since 2006, put itself into a precautionary standby mode on February 15th in response to sensing an unexpectedly low battery voltage.

The orbiter is solar-powered but relies on a pair of nickel-hydrogen batteries during periods when it is in the shadow of Mars for a portion of each orbit. The two are used together, maintaining almost identical charge during normal operations.

Artist concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL)

Artist concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity continues to make discoveries on Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity keeps providing surprises about the Red Planet, most recently with observations of possible “rock stripes.”

The ground texture seen in recent images from the rover resembles a smudged version of very distinctive stone stripes on some mountain slopes on Earth that result from repeated cycles of freezing and thawing of wet soil. But it might also be due to wind, downhill transport, other processes or a combination.

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of "Perseverance Valley" are under investigation by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene. The rover reaches its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, on Feb. 16, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Textured rows on the ground in this portion of “Perseverance Valley” are under investigation by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which used its Navigation Camera to take the component images of this downhill-looking scene. The rover reaches its 5,000th Martian day, or sol, on Feb. 16, 2018. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover mission to take Meteorite back to Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A chunk of Mars will soon be returning home.

A piece of a meteorite called Sayh al Uhaymir 008 (SaU008) will be carried on board NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission, now being built at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This chunk will serve as target practice for a high-precision laser on the rover’s arm.

Mars 2020’s goal is ambitious: collect samples from the Red Planet’s surface that a future mission could potentially return to Earth. One of the rover’s many tools will be a laser designed to illuminate rock features as fine as a human hair.

Rohit Bhartia of NASA's Mars 2020 mission holds a slice of a meteorite scientists have determined came from Mars. One of two slices will be used for testing a laser instrument for NASA's Mars 2020 rover while it's still on Earth; the other slice will go to Mars onboard the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Rohit Bhartia of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission holds a slice of a meteorite scientists have determined came from Mars. One of two slices will be used for testing a laser instrument for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover while it’s still on Earth; the other slice will go to Mars onboard the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA looks to develop 3-D Printable Tools to examine Biological Samples in Space

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If humans are destined for deep space, they need to understand the space environment changes health, including aging and antibiotic resistance.

A new NASA project could help. It aims to develop technology used to study “omics” — fields of microbiology that are important to human health. Omics includes research into genomes, microbiomes and proteomes.

The Omics in Space project is being led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The project was recently funded by NASA’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health four years of study.

In this 2016 photo, Matthias Maurer of ESA inserts samples into the MinION DNA sequencer while at NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO), an underwater research facility. The MinION device will also be used as part of the Omics in Space project, which will develop new tools for studying microbiology in space. (NASA)

In this 2016 photo, Matthias Maurer of ESA inserts samples into the MinION DNA sequencer while at NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO), an underwater research facility. The MinION device will also be used as part of the Omics in Space project, which will develop new tools for studying microbiology in space. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s mission extended

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has begun extra stargazing to help the space agency accomplish advances in Mars exploration over the next decade.

The spacecraft already has worked more than double its planned mission life since launch in 2005. NASA plans to keep using it past the mid-2020s. Increased reliance on a star tracker, and less on aging gyroscopes, is one way the mission is adapting to extend its longevity. Another step is wringing more useful life from batteries. The mission’s extended service provides data relay from assets on Mars’ surface and observations with its science instruments, despite some degradation in capabilities.

Artist concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL)

Artist concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA/JPL)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover closely examines Tiny Crystal Bumps in bedrock on Mars

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Star-shaped and swallowtail-shaped tiny, dark bumps in fine-layered bright bedrock of a Martian ridge are drawing close inspection by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover.

This set of shapes looks familiar to geologists who have studied gypsum crystals formed in drying lakes on Earth, but Curiosity’s science team is considering multiple possibilities for the origin of these features on “Vera Rubin Ridge” on Mars.

One uncertainty the rover’s inspection may resolve is the timing of when the crystal-shaped features formed, relative to when layers of sediment accumulated around them.

This exposure of finely laminated bedrock on Mars includes tiny crystal-shaped bumps, plus mineral veins with both bright and dark material. This rock target, called "Jura," was imaged by the MAHLI camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Jan. 4, 2018, during Sol 1925 of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This exposure of finely laminated bedrock on Mars includes tiny crystal-shaped bumps, plus mineral veins with both bright and dark material. This rock target, called “Jura,” was imaged by the MAHLI camera on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Jan. 4, 2018, during Sol 1925 of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA releases new information on Earth Size Planets of TRAPPIST-1

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The seven Earth-size planets of TRAPPIST-1 are all mostly made of rock, with some having the potential to hold more water than Earth, according to a new study published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The planets’ densities, now known much more precisely than before, suggest that some planets could have up to 5 percent of their mass in water — which is 250 times more than the oceans on Earth.

The form that water would take on TRAPPIST-1 planets would depend on the amount of heat they receive from their star, which is a mere 9 percent as massive as our Sun.

This artist's concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets' diameters, masses and distances from the host star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows what the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system may look like, based on available data about the planets’ diameters, masses and distances from the host star. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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