Topic: Gale Crater
Washington, D.C. – The weather often plays a role in our daily plans. You might put on a light jacket when the forecast calls for a cool breeze or delay your travel plans because of an impending storm. NASA engineers use weather data to inform their plans, too, which is why they’re analyzing the conditions millions of miles away on Mars.
The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover first powered on for 30 minutes on February 19th, approximately one day after the rover touched down on the Red Planet. Around 8:25pm PST that same day, engineers received initial data from MEDA.
Pasadena, CA – The team of scientists and engineers behind NASA’s Curiosity rover named a hill along the rover’s path on Mars in honor of a recently deceased mission scientist. A craggy hump that stretches 450 feet (120 meters) tall, “Rafael Navarro Mountain” is located on Mount Sharp in northwest Gale Crater.
Pasadena, CA – It’s been 3,000 Martian days, or sols, since NASA’s Curiosity Rover touched down on Mars on August 6th, 2012, and the rover keeps making new discoveries during its gradual climb up Mount Sharp, the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain it has been exploring since 2014. Geologists were intrigued to see a series of rock “benches” in the most recent panorama from the mission.
Stitched together from 122 images taken on November 18th, 2020, the mission’s 2,946th sol, the panorama was captured by the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, which serves as the rover’s main “eyes.”
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has a new selfie. This latest is from a location named “Mary Anning,” after a 19th-century English paleontologist whose discovery of marine-reptile fossils were ignored for generations because of her gender and class. The rover has been at the site since this past July, taking and analyzing drill samples.
Made up of 59 pictures stitched together by imaging specialists, the selfie was taken on October 25th, 2020 – the 2,922nd Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s mission.
Pasadena, 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.
Greenbelt, 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.
Pasadena, 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.
Pasadena, 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.
Greenbelt, 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.
Pasadena, 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.
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