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Topic: NASA’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity starts Solander Point climb

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover has begun climbing “Solander Point,” the northern tip of the tallest hill it has encountered in the mission’s nearly 10 Earth years on Mars.

Guided by mineral mapping from orbit, the rover is exploring outcrops on the northwestern slopes of Solander Point, making its way up the hill much as a field geologist would do. The outcrops are exposed from several feet (about 2 meters) to about 20 feet (6 meters) above the surrounding plains, on slopes as steep as 15 to 20 degrees. The rover may later drive south and ascend farther up the hill, which peaks at about 130 feet (40 meters) above the plains.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this southward uphill view after beginning to ascend the northwestern slope of "Solander Point" on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity captured this southward uphill view after beginning to ascend the northwestern slope of “Solander Point” on the western rim of Endeavour Crater. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity investigates Rock changed by Water

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is driving to a new study area after a dramatic finish to 20 months on “Cape York” with examination of a rock intensely altered by water.

The fractured rock, called “Esperance,” provides evidence about a wet ancient environment possibly favorable for life. The mission’s principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, said, “Esperance was so important, we committed several weeks to getting this one measurement of it, even though we knew the clock was ticking.”

The pale rock in the upper center of this image, about the size of a human forearm, includes a target called "Esperance," which was inspected by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Data from the rover's alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) indicate that Esperance's composition is higher in aluminum and silica, and lower in calcium and iron, than other rocks Opportunity has examined in more than nine years on Mars. Preliminary interpretation points to clay mineral content due to intensive alteration by water. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

The pale rock in the upper center of this image, about the size of a human forearm, includes a target called “Esperance,” which was inspected by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. Data from the rover’s alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) indicate that Esperance’s composition is higher in aluminum and silica, and lower in calcium and iron, than other rocks Opportunity has examined in more than nine years on Mars. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.)

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NASA Study of Clays Suggests Watery Mars Underground

 

Written by Guy Webster – Jet Propulsion Laboratory
and Dwayne Brown – NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – A new NASA study suggests if life ever existed on Mars, the longest lasting habitats were most likely below the Red Planet’s surface.

A new interpretation of years of mineral-mapping data, from more than 350 sites on Mars examined by European and NASA orbiters, suggests Martian environments with abundant liquid water on the surface existed only during short episodes. These episodes occurred toward the end of a period of hundreds of millions of years during which warm water interacted with subsurface rocks. This has implications about whether life existed on Mars and how the Martian atmosphere has changed.

Impact cratering and erosion combine to reveal the composition of the Martian underground by exposing materials from the subsurface. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL)

Impact cratering and erosion combine to reveal the composition of the Martian underground by exposing materials from the subsurface. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL)

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