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Topic: NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity

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’s Mars Rover Curiosity data helps scientists confirm Ancient Lakes on Mars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new study from the team behind NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity has confirmed that Mars was once, billions of years ago, capable of storing water in lakes over an extended period of time.

Using data from the Curiosity rover, the team has determined that, long ago, water helped deposit sediment into Gale Crater, where the rover landed more than three years ago. The sediment deposited as layers that formed the foundation for Mount Sharp, the mountain found in the middle of the crater today.

A view from the "Kimberley" formation on Mars taken by NASA's Curiosity rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A view from the “Kimberley” formation on Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory works to make “The Martian” a Reality

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – When fictional astronaut Mark Watney becomes stranded alone on the Red Planet in the novel and film “The Martian,” people and technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, play important roles in his castaway adventure.

Acclaimed for its attention to scientific and technical detail, “The Martian” is steeped in decades of real-life Mars exploration that JPL has led for NASA.

(There are mild spoilers in the next section — if you haven’t read or seen “The Martian,” you might want to skip to the following section.)

Producers of "The Martian" turned to JPL for inspiration in bringing the story to life on screen. (20th Century Fox)

Producers of “The Martian” turned to JPL for inspiration in bringing the story to life on screen. (20th Century Fox)

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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 separates Fact from Fiction about Dust Storms on Mars

 

Written by Kathryn Mersmann
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – For years, science fiction writers from Edgar Rice Burroughs to C. S. Lewis have imagined what it would be like for humans to walk on Mars. As mankind comes closer to taking its first steps on the Red Planet, authors’ depictions of the experience have become more realistic.

Andy Weir’s “The Martian” begins with a massive dust storm that strands fictional astronaut Mark Watney on Mars. In the scene, powerful wind rips an antenna out of a piece of equipment and destroys parts of the astronauts’ camp.

Mars is infamous for intense dust storms, which sometimes kick up enough dust to be seen by telescopes on Earth.

A dust storm on Mars in 2008 temporarily cuts the amount of sunlight reaching the solar array on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, leaving the rover in a vulnerable state. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell)

A dust storm on Mars in 2008 temporarily cuts the amount of sunlight reaching the solar array on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, leaving the rover in a vulnerable state. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover finds Sand Dunes that have Petrified

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Some of the dark sandstone in an area being explored by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows texture and inclined bedding structures characteristic of deposits that formed as sand dunes, then were cemented into rock.

This sandstone outcrop — part of a geological layer that Curiosity’s science team calls the Stimson unit — has a structure called crossbedding on a large scale that the team has interpreted as deposits of sand dunes formed by wind.

Large-scale crossbedding in the sandstone of this ridge on a lower slope of Mars' Mount Sharp is typical of windblown sand dunes that have petrified. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Large-scale crossbedding in the sandstone of this ridge on a lower slope of Mars’ Mount Sharp is typical of windblown sand dunes that have petrified. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA tests Hedgehog robots designed to operate on an Asteroid or Comet

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can’t operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous.

Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies. The project is being jointly developed by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California; Stanford University in Stanford, California; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

While a Mars rover can't operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)

While a Mars rover can’t operate upside down, the Hedgehog robot can function regardless of which side lands up. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stanford)

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NASA says Scientists are moving closer to answering the question, What happened to Mars’ Atmosphere

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists may be closer to solving the mystery of how Mars changed from a world with surface water billions of years ago to the arid Red Planet of today.

A new analysis of the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars suggests that the original Martian atmosphere may have already lost most of its carbon dioxide by the era of valley network formation.

“The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere,” said Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena.

Researchers estimating the amount of carbon held in the ground at the largest known carbonate deposit on Mars used data from five instruments on three NASA Mars orbiters, including physical properties from THEMIS (left) and mineral information from CRISM (right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/JHUAPL)

Researchers estimating the amount of carbon held in the ground at the largest known carbonate deposit on Mars used data from five instruments on three NASA Mars orbiters, including physical properties from THEMIS (left) and mineral information from CRISM (right). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/JHUAPL)

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