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Topic: NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity

NASA studies Thickest Dust Storm ever seen on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One of the thickest dust storms ever observed on Mars has been spreading for the past week and a half. The storm has caused NASA’s Opportunity rover to suspend science operations, but also offers a window for four other spacecraft to learn from the swirling dust.

NASA has three orbiters circling the Red Planet, each equipped with special cameras and other atmospheric instruments. Additionally, NASA’s Curiosity rover has begun to see an increase in dust at its location in Gale Crater.

This set of images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This set of images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a fierce dust storm is kicking up on Mars, with rovers on the surface indicated as icons. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover discovers Ancient Organic Molecules on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

The new findings — “tough” organic molecules in 3-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere — appear in the June 8th edition of the journal Science.

NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered ancient organic molecules on Mars, embedded within sedimentary rocks that are billions of years old. (NASA/GSFC)

NASA’s Curiosity rover has discovered ancient organic molecules on Mars, embedded within sedimentary rocks that are billions of years old. (NASA/GSFC)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover gets back to analyzing rock samples

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover is analyzing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs for the first time in more than a year.

“This was no small feat. It represents months and months of work by our team to pull this off,” said Jim Erickson, project manager of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Curiosity rover is part of the MSL mission. “JPL’s engineers had to improvise a new way for the rover to drill rocks on Mars after a mechanical problem took the drill offline in December 2016.”

The rover drilled its last scheduled rock sample in October 2016.

The drill bit of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover over one of the sample inlets on the rover's deck. The inlets lead to Curiosity's onboard laboratories. This image was taken on Sol 2068 by the rover's Mast Camera (Mastcam). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The drill bit of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover over one of the sample inlets on the rover’s deck. The inlets lead to Curiosity’s onboard laboratories. This image was taken on Sol 2068 by the rover’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover successfully drills rock sample

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Engineers working with NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover have been hard at work testing a new way for the rover to drill rocks and extract powder from them. This past weekend, that effort produced the first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year.

Curiosity tested percussive drilling this past weekend, penetrating about 2 inches (50 millimeters) into a target called “Duluth.”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has been testing this drilling technique since a mechanical problem took Curiosity’s drill offline in December of 2016.

NASA's Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called "Duluth" on May 20. It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016. This image was taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sol 2057. It has been white balanced and contrast-enhanced. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully drilled a 2-inch-deep hole in a target called “Duluth” on May 20. It was the first rock sample captured by the drill since October 2016. This image was taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sol 2057. It has been white balanced and contrast-enhanced. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover to use new technique to get back to drilling

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover could soon be drilling rocks on Mars again.

Engineers have been working for the past year to restore the rover’s full drilling capabilities, which were hampered in 2016 due to a mechanical problem. Later this weekend, they’ll be adding percussion to a new technique already in use on Mars.

This new technique is called Feed Extended Drilling, or FED. It lets Curiosity drill more like the way a person would at home, using the force of its robotic arm to push its drill bit forward as it spins. The new version of FED adds a hammering force to the drill bit.

A test of a new percussive drilling technique at NASA's JPL. Later this week, NASA's Curiosity rover will test percussive drilling on Mars for the first time since December 2016. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A test of a new percussive drilling technique at NASA’s JPL. Later this week, NASA’s Curiosity rover will test percussive drilling on Mars for the first time since December 2016. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory gets visit from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A week before NASA launches its next mission to Mars, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence toured on Saturday, April 28th, the birthplace of numerous past, present and future space missions at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The afternoon visit by the Vice President, his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte, included a stop in JPL’s Mission Control, where engineers will communicate with NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight).

JPL Director Michael Watkins gave Vice President Mike Pence, right, a plaque during the Vice President's tour of JPL on April 28, 2018. The plaque features a view of NASA's Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

JPL Director Michael Watkins gave Vice President Mike Pence, right, a plaque during the Vice President’s tour of JPL on April 28, 2018. The plaque features a view of NASA’s Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover has now spent 2,000 Martian Days on Mars

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. An image mosaic taken by the rover in January offers a preview of what comes next.

Looming over the image is Mount Sharp, the mound Curiosity has been climbing since September 2014. In the center of the image is the rover’s next big, scientific target: an area scientists have studied from orbit and have determined contains clay minerals.

This mosaic taken by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover looks uphill at Mount Sharp, which Curiosity has been climbing since 2014. Highlighted in white is an area with clay-bearing rocks that scientists are eager to explore; it could shed additional light on the role of water in creating Mount Sharp. The mosaic was assembled from dozens of images taken by Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam). It was taken on Sol 1931 back in January. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This mosaic taken by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover looks uphill at Mount Sharp, which Curiosity has been climbing since 2014. Highlighted in white is an area with clay-bearing rocks that scientists are eager to explore; it could shed additional light on the role of water in creating Mount Sharp. The mosaic was assembled from dozens of images taken by Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). It was taken on Sol 1931 back in January. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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Virtual 3-D models of NASA’s Robotic Space Explorers in new “AR” Mobile App

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Media Relations Office

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA spacecraft travel to far-off destinations in space, but a new mobile app produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, brings spacecraft to users. The new app, called Spacecraft AR, uses the latest augmented reality (AR) technology to put virtual 3-D models of NASA’s robotic space explorers into any environment with a flat surface.

You can download the new app here.

JPL developed the Spacecraft AR app in collaboration with Google. The app uses Google’s ARCore technology to bring 3-D spacecraft into users’ devices using native mobile augmented reality. (“Native mobile” AR uses the built-in capabilities of a mobile device to interact with 3-D environments and objects.)

The free Spacecraft AR app uses Google ARCore technology to put virtual 3-D models of NASA robotic spacecraft, such as the Curiosity Mars rover seen here, into any environment with a flat surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The free Spacecraft AR app uses Google ARCore technology to put virtual 3-D models of NASA robotic spacecraft, such as the Curiosity Mars rover seen here, into any environment with a flat surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA tests new way for Mars Curiosity rover to Drill

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has conducted the first test of a new drilling technique on the Red Planet since its drill stopped working reliably.

This early test produced a hole about a half-inch (1-centimeter) deep at a target called Lake Orcadie — not enough for a full scientific sample, but enough to validate that the new method works mechanically. This was just the first in what will be a series of tests to determine how well the new drill method can collect samples. If this drill had achieved sufficient depth to collect a sample, the team would have begun testing a new sample delivery process, ultimately delivering to instruments inside the rover.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover used a new drill method to produce a hole on February 26 in a target named Lake Orcadie. The hole marks the first operation of the rover's drill since a motor problem began acting up more than a year ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used a new drill method to produce a hole on February 26 in a target named Lake Orcadie. The hole marks the first operation of the rover’s drill since a motor problem began acting up more than a year ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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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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