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Topic: Gale Crater

NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover begins Summer Trip

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has started a road trip that will continue through the summer across roughly a mile (1.6 kilometers) of terrain. By trip’s end, the rover will be able to ascend to the next section of the 3-mile-tall Martian (5-kilometer-tall) mountain it’s been exploring since 2014, searching for conditions that may have supported ancient microbial life.

Located on the floor of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp is composed of sedimentary layers that built up over time. Each layer helps tell the story about how Mars changed from being more Earth-like – with lakes, streams and a thicker atmosphere – to the nearly-airless, freezing desert it is today.

Stitched together from 28 images, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from "Greenheugh Pediment" on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment's sandstone cap. At center is the "clay-bearing unit"; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Stitched together from 28 images, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured this view from “Greenheugh Pediment” on April 9, 2020, the 2,729th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. In the foreground is the pediment’s sandstone cap. At center is the “clay-bearing unit”; the floor of Gale Crater is in the distance. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discovers information in Rocks about Mars’ cold, icy past

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – By studying the chemical elements on Mars today, including carbon and oxygen, NASA scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

Weaving this story, element by element, from roughly 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) away is a painstaking process. But scientists aren’t the type to be easily deterred. Orbiters and rovers at Mars have confirmed that the planet once had liquid water, thanks to clues that include dry riverbeds, ancient shorelines, and salty surface chemistry.

Filled with briny lakes, the Quisquiro salt flat in South America's Altiplano represents the kind of landscape that scientists think may have existed in Gale Crater on Mars. (Maksym Bocharov)

Filled with briny lakes, the Quisquiro salt flat in South America’s Altiplano represents the kind of landscape that scientists think may have existed in Gale Crater on Mars. (Maksym Bocharov)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover makes record climb over Greenheugh Pediment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently set a record for the steepest terrain it’s ever climbed, cresting the “Greenheugh Pediment,” a broad sheet of rock that sits atop a hill. And before doing that, the rover took a selfie, capturing the scene just below Greenheugh.

In front of the rover is a hole it drilled while sampling a bedrock target called “Hutton.” The entire selfie is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 86 images relayed to Earth. The selfie captures the rover about 11 feet (3.4 meters) below the point where it climbed onto the crumbling pediment.

This selfie was taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Feb. 26, 2020 (the 2,687th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). The crumbling rock layer at the top of the image is "the Greenheugh Pediment," which Curiosity climbed soon after taking the image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This selfie was taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on Feb. 26, 2020 (the 2,687th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). The crumbling rock layer at the top of the image is “the Greenheugh Pediment,” which Curiosity climbed soon after taking the image. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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Soon, NASA will have Two Rovers driving across Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  Curiosity won’t be NASA’s only active Mars rover for much longer. Next summer, Mars 2020 will be headed for the Red Planet.

While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity’s design, they aren’t twins: Built and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life.

Here’s a closer look at what sets the siblings apart.

Illustrations of NASA's Curiosity and Mars 2020 rovers. While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity's design, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Illustrations of NASA’s Curiosity and Mars 2020 rovers. While the newest rover borrows from Curiosity’s design, each has its own role in the ongoing exploration of Mars and the search for ancient life. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA Mars Curiosity Rover finds new mystery, Oxygen

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – For the first time in the history of space exploration, NASA scientists have measured the seasonal changes in the gases that fill the air directly above the surface of Gale Crater on Mars.

As a result, they noticed something baffling: oxygen, the gas many Earth creatures use to breathe, behaves in a way that so far scientists cannot explain through any known chemical processes.

Over the course of three Mars years (or nearly six Earth years) an instrument in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) portable chemistry lab inside the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover inhaled the air of Gale Crater and analyzed its composition.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover imaged these drifting clouds on May 17, 2019, the 2,410th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, using its black-and-white Navigation Cameras (Navcams). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover imaged these drifting clouds on May 17, 2019, the 2,410th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, using its black-and-white Navigation Cameras (Navcams). (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover performs it’s second Chemistry Experiment

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover’s new selfie is breathtaking, but it’s especially meaningful for the mission’s team: Stitched together from 57 individual images taken by a camera on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm, the panorama also commemorates only the second time the rover has performed a special chemistry experiment.

The selfie was taken on October 11th, 2019 (Sol 2,553) in a location named “Glen Etive” (pronounced “glen EH-tiv”), which is part of the “clay-bearing unit,” a region the team has eagerly awaited reaching since before Curiosity launched.

NASA's Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed "Glen Etive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity rover took this selfie on Oct. 11, 2019, the 2,553rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. The rover drilled twice in this location, which is nicknamed “Glen Etive. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discover Ancient Oasis

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you could travel back in time 3.5 billion years, what would Mars look like? The picture is evolving among scientists working with NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Imagine ponds dotting the floor of Gale Crater, the 100-mile-wide (150-kilometer-wide) ancient basin that Curiosity is exploring. Streams might have laced the crater’s walls, running toward its base. Watch history in fast forward, and you’d see these waterways overflow then dry up, a cycle that probably repeated itself numerous times over millions of years.

The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called "Old Soaker" may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called “Old Soaker” may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover continues exploring Martian Surface

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity rover has come a long way since touching down on Mars seven years ago. It has traveled a total of 13 miles (21 kilometers) and ascended 1,207 feet (368 meters) to its current location. Along the way, Curiosity discovered Mars had the conditions to support microbial life in the ancient past, among other things.

And the rover is far from done, having just drilled its 22nd sample from the Martian surface. It has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations. After that, careful budgeting of its power will allow the rover to keep studying the Red Planet.

This panorama of a location called "Teal Ridge" was captured on Mars by the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on NASA's Curiosity rover on June 18th, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

This panorama of a location called “Teal Ridge” was captured on Mars by the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on NASA’s Curiosity rover on June 18th, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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NASA’s Curiosity rover measures large amount of Methane on Mars

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has discovered the largest amount of methane ever measured on Mars during the mission. Curiosity measured about 21 parts per billion units by volume (ppbv). One ppbv means that if you take a volume of air on Mars, one billionth of the volume of air is methane.

The finding came from the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) tunable laser spectrometer. It’s exciting because microbial life is an important source of methane on Earth, but methane can also be created through interactions between rocks and water.

This image was taken by the left Navcam on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on June 18, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. It shows part of "Teal Ridge," which the rover has been studying within a region called the "clay-bearing unit." (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This image was taken by the left Navcam on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on June 18, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. It shows part of “Teal Ridge,” which the rover has been studying within a region called the “clay-bearing unit.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover discovers large amount of Clay Materials

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has discovered clay in the region on Mars it’s currently exploring, called the “clay-bearing unit,” is well deserving of its name.

Two samples the rover recently drilled at rock targets called “Aberlady” and “Kilmarie” have revealed the highest amounts of clay minerals ever found during the mission. Both drill targets appear in a new selfie taken by the rover on May 12th, 2019, the 2,405th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover took this selfie on May 12, 2019 (the 2,405th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). To the lower-left of the rover are its two recent drill holes, at targets called "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie." (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took this selfie on May 12, 2019 (the 2,405th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). To the lower-left of the rover are its two recent drill holes, at targets called “Aberlady” and “Kilmarie.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

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