Pasadena, CA – Mars has long been known for its rust. Iron on its surface, combined with water and oxygen from the ancient past, give the Red Planet its hue. But scientists were recently surprised to find evidence that our airless Moon has rust on it as well.
A new paper in Science Advances reviews data from the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which discovered water ice and mapped out a variety of minerals while surveying the Moon’s surface in 2008.
Pasadena, 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 Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – After 15 years, the mission of NASA’s Opportunity rover has come to an end, but its successes on Mars have earned it a spot in the robot hall of fame. Here’s what you need to know about our intrepid Martian overachiever:
1. Opportunity was a twin.
The Mars Exploration Rovers mission featured two identical, golf-cart-sized, solar-powered rovers: Spirit and Opportunity. Spirit landed at Gusev Crater on January 4th, 2004. Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum on January 24th, 2004 PST (January 25th EST). Both rovers were managed for NASA by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Washington, D.C. – One of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration, NASA’s Opportunity rover mission is at an end after almost 15 years exploring the surface of Mars and helping lay the groundwork for NASA’s return to the Red Planet.
The Opportunity rover stopped communicating with Earth when a severe Mars-wide dust storm blanketed its location in June 2018. After more than a thousand commands to restore contact, engineers in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) made their last attempt to revive Opportunity Tuesday, to no avail. The solar-powered rover’s final communication was received June 10th.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – After exploring Mars’ Vera Rubin Ridge for more than a year, NASA’s Curiosity rover recently moved on. But a new 360-video lets the public visit Curiosity’s final drill site on the ridge, an area nicknamed “Rock Hall.” The video was created from a panorama taken by the rover on December 19th.
It includes images of its next destination – an area the team has been calling the “clay-bearing unit” and recently named “Glen Torridon” – and the floor of Gale Crater, home to Mount Sharp, the geological feature the rover has been climbing since 2014.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, CA – After snagging a new rock sample on August 9th, 2018 NASA’s Curiosity rover surveyed its surroundings on Mars, producing a 360-degree panorama of its current location on Vera Rubin Ridge.
The panorama includes umber skies, darkened by a fading global dust storm. It also includes a rare view by the Mast Camera of the rover itself, revealing a thin layer of dust on Curiosity’s deck. In the foreground is the rover’s most recent drill target, named “Stoer” after a town in Scotland near where important discoveries about early life on Earth were made in lakebed sediments.
Washington, 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.
Written by Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
Washington, D.C. – Color-discerning capabilities that NASA’s Curiosity rover has been using on Mars since 2012 are proving particularly helpful on a mountainside ridge the rover is now climbing.
These capabilities go beyond the thousands of full-color images Curiosity takes every year: The rover can look at Mars with special filters helpful for identifying some minerals, and also with a spectrometer that sorts light into thousands of wavelengths, extending beyond visible-light colors into infrared and ultraviolet. These observations aid decisions about where to drive and investigations of chosen targets.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has begun the steep ascent of an iron-oxide-bearing ridge that’s grabbed scientists’ attention since before the car-sized rover’s 2012 landing.
“We’re on the climb now, driving up a route where we can access the layers we’ve studied from below,” said Abigail Fraeman, a Curiosity science-team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Written by Guy Webster
Pasadena, CA – The car-size NASA rover on a Martian mountain, Curiosity, has begun its long-anticipated study of an iron-bearing ridge forming a distinctive layer on the mountain’s slope.
Since before Curiosity’s landing five years ago next month, this feature has been recognized as one of four unique terrains on lower Mount Sharp and therefore a key mission destination. Curiosity’s science team informally named it “Vera Rubin Ridge” this year, commemorating astronomer Vera Cooper Rubin (1928-2016).
“Our Vera Rubin Ridge campaign has begun,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “Curiosity is driving parallel to the ridge, below it, observing it from different angles as we work our way toward a safe route to the top of the ridge.”
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