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Topic: Crater

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover uses Robotic Arm to begin studies of Red Planet

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has been busy serving as a communications base station for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and documenting the rotorcraft’s historic flights. But the rover has also been busy focusing its science instruments on rocks that lay on the floor of Jezero Crater.

What insights they turn up will help scientists create a timeline of when an ancient lake formed there, when it dried, and when sediment began piling up in the delta that formed in the crater long ago. Understanding this timeline should help date rock samples – to be collected later in the mission – that might preserve a record of ancient microbes.

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover used its dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager to capture this image of Santa Cruz, a hill within Jezero Crater, on April 29th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager to capture this image of Santa Cruz, a hill within Jezero Crater, on April 29th, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

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NASA’s Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) project gets funding

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – After years of development, the Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) project has been awarded $500,000 to support additional work as it enters Phase II of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. While not yet a NASA mission, the LCRT describes a mission concept that could transform humanity’s view of the cosmos.

The LCRT’s primary objective would be to measure the long-wavelength radio waves generated by the cosmic Dark Ages – a period that lasted for a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, but before the first stars blinked into existence.

This illustration depicts a conceptual Lunar Crater Radio Telescope on the Moon’s far side. (Vladimir Vustyansky)

This illustration depicts a conceptual Lunar Crater Radio Telescope on the Moon’s far side. (Vladimir Vustyansky)

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NASA’s DuAxel rover can move over Tough Terrain

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A rover trundles over rocky terrain, its four metal wheels clattering along until they encounter a seemingly insurmountable hazard: a steep slope. Down below is a potential trove of science targets. With a typical rover, the operators would need to find another target, but this is NASA’s DuAxel, a robot built for situations exactly like this.

The rover is actually made of a pair of two-wheeled rovers, each called Axel. To divide and conquer, the rover stops, lowers its chassis and anchors it to the ground before essentially splitting in two.

The DuAxel rover is seen here participating in field tests in the Mojave Desert. The four-wheeled rover is composed of two Axel robots. One part anchors itself in place while the other uses a tether to explore otherwise inaccessible terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.D. Gammell)

The DuAxel rover is seen here participating in field tests in the Mojave Desert. The four-wheeled rover is composed of two Axel robots. One part anchors itself in place while the other uses a tether to explore otherwise inaccessible terrain. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.D. Gammell)

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NASA uses Artificial Intelligence to find new Craters on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Sometime between March 2010 and May 2012, a meteor streaked across the Martian sky and broke into pieces, slamming into the planet’s surface. The resulting craters were relatively small – just 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter.

The smaller the features, the more difficult they are to spot using Mars orbiters. But in this case – and for the first time – scientists spotted them with a little extra help: artificial intelligence (AI).

The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered AI. The AI first spotted the craters in images taken the orbiter's Context Camera; scientists followed up with this HiRISE image to confirm the craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

The HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this image of a crater cluster on Mars, the first ever to be discovered AI. The AI first spotted the craters in images taken the orbiter’s Context Camera; scientists followed up with this HiRISE image to confirm the craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

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NASA’s Safe, Precise Landing Technology allows Spacecraft to make Precision Landings

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments – but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition.

With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle's fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Blue Origin)

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Blue Origin)

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NASA to use CubeSat with Infrared Lasers to search the Moon’s Craters for Ice

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As astronauts explore the Moon during the Artemis program, they may need to make use of the resources that already exist on the lunar surface. Take water, for instance: Because it’s a heavy and therefore expensive resource to launch from Earth, our future explorers might have to seek out ice to mine.

Once excavated, it can be melted and purified for drinking and used for rocket fuel. But how much water is there on the Moon, and where might we find it?

This artist's concept shows the briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight spacecraft using its near-infrared lasers to shine light into shaded polar regions on the Moon to look for water ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept shows the briefcase-sized Lunar Flashlight spacecraft using its near-infrared lasers to shine light into shaded polar regions on the Moon to look for water ice. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA dates Australian Meteor Crater, Oldest Crater Known

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA says the Earth is pocked with roughly 190 major meteor craters, yet scientists only know the age of just a few. Recently, A NASA scientist analyzed the age of the Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia and found it to be 2.229 billion years old, making it now the oldest crater currently known.

“It’s 200 million years older than the previously oldest known crater, which was the over 200-kilometer Vredefort Dome crater in South Africa,” said Timmons Erickson, a research scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, or ARES, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia. (NASA)

Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to search for Ancient Life

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Scientists with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on February 18th, 2021.

A paper published today in the journal Icarus identifies distinct deposits of minerals called carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero, the site of a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. On Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form for billions of years, including seashells, coral and some stromatolites – rocks formed on this planet by ancient microbial life along ancient shorelines, where sunlight and water were plentiful.

NASA's Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

NASA’s Mars 2020 Will Hunt for Microscopic Fossils Lighter colors represent higher elevation in this image of Jezero Crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The oval indicates the landing ellipse, where the rover will be touching down on Mars. (NASA)

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data suggests Lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan actually Explosive Craters

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft radar data recently published research presents a new scenario to explain why some methane-filled lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan are surrounded by steep rims that reach hundreds of feet high. The models suggests that explosions of warming nitrogen created basins in the moon’s crust.

Titan is the only planetary body in our solar system other than Earth known to have stable liquid on its surface. But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan it’s methane and ethane – hydrocarbons that we think of as gases but that behave as liquids in Titan’s frigid climate.

This artist's concept of a lake at the north pole of Saturn's moon Titan illustrates raised rims and rampartlike features such as those seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft around the moon's Winnipeg Lacus. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This artist’s concept of a lake at the north pole of Saturn’s moon Titan illustrates raised rims and rampartlike features such as those seen by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft around the moon’s Winnipeg Lacus. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 mission to use autopilot to maneuver around hazards during landing

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – During the first astronaut landing on the Moon, the view of the Sea of Tranquility rising up to meet Neil Armstrong was not what Apollo 11 mission planners had intended.

They had hoped to send the lunar module Eagle toward a relatively flat landing zone with few craters, rocks and boulders. Instead, peering through his small, triangular commander’s window, Armstrong saw a boulder field – very unfriendly for a lunar module.

So the Apollo 11 commander took control of the descent from the onboard computer, piloting Eagle well beyond the boulder field, to a landing site that will forever be known as Tranquility Base.

NASA's Mars 2020 mission will have an autopilot that helps guide it to safer landings on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will have an autopilot that helps guide it to safer landings on the Red Planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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