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Topic: Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Rover uses Mast Camera to Scout Terrain on Mars

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Color-discerning capabilities that NASA’s Curiosity rover has been using on Mars since 2012 are proving particularly helpful on a mountainside ridge the rover is now climbing.

These capabilities go beyond the thousands of full-color images Curiosity takes every year: The rover can look at Mars with special filters helpful for identifying some minerals, and also with a spectrometer that sorts light into thousands of wavelengths, extending beyond visible-light colors into infrared and ultraviolet. These observations aid decisions about where to drive and investigations of chosen targets.

This pair of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA's Curiosity rover illustrates how special filters are used to scout terrain ahead for variations in the local bedrock. (NASA)

This pair of images from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity rover illustrates how special filters are used to scout terrain ahead for variations in the local bedrock. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover to have 23 Cameras on board

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA’s Mars Pathfinder touched down in 1997, it had five cameras: two on a mast that popped up from the lander, and three on NASA’s first rover, Sojourner.

Since then, camera technology has taken a quantum leap. Photo sensors that were improved by the space program have become commercially ubiquitous. Cameras have shrunk in size, increased in quality and are now carried in every cellphone and laptop.

A selection of the 23 cameras on NASA's 2020 Mars rover. Many are improved versions of the cameras on the Curiosity rover, with a few new additions as well. (NASA/JPL-Caltech UPDATED AT 4:15 p.m. PDT to correct the number of EDL cameras shown in the image)

A selection of the 23 cameras on NASA’s 2020 Mars rover. Many are improved versions of the cameras on the Curiosity rover, with a few new additions as well. (NASA/JPL-Caltech UPDATED AT 4:15 p.m. PDT to correct the number of EDL cameras shown in the image)

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NASA works to restore Mars Curiosity Rover’s Drilling Ability

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. –  NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity team is working to restore Curiosity’s sample-drilling capability using new techniques. The latest development is a preparatory test on Mars.

The five-year-old mission is still several months from the soonest possible resumption of drilling into Martian rocks. Managers are enthusiastic about successful Earth-based tests of techniques to work around a mechanical problem that appeared late last year and suspended use of the rover’s drill.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover conducted a test on Oct. 17, 2017, as part of the rover team's development of a new way to use the rover's drill. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover conducted a test on Oct. 17, 2017, as part of the rover team’s development of a new way to use the rover’s drill. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA teams with Google to produce Mars VR experience

 

Written by Andrew Good
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When NASA scientists want to follow the path of the Curiosity rover on Mars, they can don a mixed-reality headset and virtually explore the Martian landscape.

Starting today, everyone can get a taste of what that feels like. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience. It’s available for use on all desktop and mobile devices and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets. That includes mobile-based virtual reality devices on Apple and Android.

Access Mars allows any member of the public to explore the discoveries of NASA's Curiosity rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Access Mars allows any member of the public to explore the discoveries of NASA’s Curiosity rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA extends Dawn Spacecraft’s mission at Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015.

The spacecraft will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its hydrazine fuel runs out.

This artist concept shows NASA's Dawn spacecraft above dwarf planet Ceres, as seen in images from the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist concept shows NASA’s Dawn spacecraft above dwarf planet Ceres, as seen in images from the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Psyche Mission utilizes Photons to increase Space Communications Performance and Efficiency

 

NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves.

The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package aboard NASA’s Psyche mission utilizes photons — the fundamental particle of visible light — to transmit more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC goal is to increase spacecraft communications performance and efficiency by 10 to 100 times over conventional means, all without increasing the mission burden in mass, volume, power and/or spectrum.

Artist's concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. (SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Artist’s concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. (SSL/ASU/P. Rubin/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA reports Stars with Disk of Debris are more likely to have Giant Exoplanets

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – There’s no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy — they’re so distant and faint compared to their stars, it’s hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible signpost for giant exoplanets.

A new study finds that giant exoplanets that orbit far from their stars are more likely to be found around young stars that have a disk of dust and debris than those without disks. The study, published in The Astronomical Journal, focused on planets more than five times the mass of Jupiter. This study is the largest to date of stars with dusty debris disks, and has found the best evidence yet that giant planets are responsible for keeping that material in check.

This artist's rendering shows a large exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s rendering shows a large exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Odyssey Spacecraft data provides new information about Mars Equator

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Scientists taking a new look at older data from NASA’s longest-operating Mars orbiter have discovered evidence of significant hydration near the Martian equator — a mysterious signature in a region of the Red Planet where planetary scientists figure ice shouldn’t exist.

Jack Wilson, a post-doctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, led a team that reprocessed data collected from 2002 to 2009 by the neutron spectrometer instrument on NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft. In bringing the lower-resolution compositional data into sharper focus, the scientists spotted unexpectedly high amounts of hydrogen — which at high latitudes is a sign of buried water ice — around sections of the Martian equator.

A new paper suggests hydrogen-possibly water ice-in the Medusa Fossae area of Mars, which is in an equatorial region of the planet to the lower left in this view. (Steve Lee (University of Colorado), Jim Bell (Cornell University), Mike Wolff (Space Science Institute), and NASA)

A new paper suggests hydrogen-possibly water ice-in the Medusa Fossae area of Mars, which is in an equatorial region of the planet to the lower left in this view. (Steve Lee (University of Colorado), Jim Bell (Cornell University), Mike Wolff (Space Science Institute), and NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter takes a look at Mars’ Moon Phobos

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA’s longest-lived mission to Mars has gained its first look at the Martian moon Phobos, pursuing a deeper understanding by examining it in infrared wavelengths.

The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter observed Phobos on September 29th, 2017. Researchers have combined visible-wavelength and infrared data to produce an image color-coded for surface temperatures of this moon, which has been considered for a potential future human-mission outpost.

This image combines two products from the first pointing at the Martian moon Phobos by the THEMIS camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, on Sept. 29, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

This image combines two products from the first pointing at the Martian moon Phobos by the THEMIS camera on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter, on Sept. 29, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data reveals Hydrothermal Conditions for Life may have existed on Mars

 

Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – The discovery of evidence for ancient sea-floor hydrothermal deposits on Mars identifies an area on the planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.

A recent international report examines observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) of massive deposits in a basin on southern Mars. The authors interpret the data as evidence that these deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet’s crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago.

This view of a portion of the Eridania region of Mars shows blocks of deep-basin deposits that have been surrounded and partially buried by younger volcanic deposits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This view of a portion of the Eridania region of Mars shows blocks of deep-basin deposits that have been surrounded and partially buried by younger volcanic deposits. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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