Author Topic: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water  (Read 9542 times)

Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« on: 06/26/2016 01:54 PM »
Looks they have made the decision to carry out further investigations of the recurring slope lineae.

Quote
Scientists have already found hints of liquid water on Mars... now, they want to take a close look at it. NASA has revealed that the Curiosity rover will investigate recurring slope lineae (those streaks you see above) around Mars' Gale Crater in hopes of finding water. It'll first take a photo with its mast camera to verify that there's water in the first place. If there is, the machine will head over to collect samples. The agency would like to take those photos within a year, so you wouldn't have to wait too long to get answers.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/25/curiosity-rover-may-sample-mars-water/

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #1 on: 06/26/2016 02:34 PM »
The paper which is the source for this is behind a paywall, sadly:

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n5/full/ngeo2412.html

Mount Sharp is the last place I would have expected RSLs if they come from groundwater. If there are briny flows, it suggests a different source, such as hygroscopic salts which have extracted moisture from the air. Of course, there may be different mechanisms in different places...


Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #2 on: 06/26/2016 06:29 PM »
I thought that the Planetary Protection people had issued as close as they could to a specific ban from any terrestrial vehicle not sterilized to the full extent that, say, the Vikings were, from even approaching an RSL.

Has this changed, or is NASA just ignoring the protocols, now?
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Offline stone

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #3 on: 06/26/2016 06:51 PM »
Liquid water is one of the definitions for a special region. For special regions post Viking sterility is necessary. 0,03 spores per squaremeter. This is not what Curiosity was built for. The assembly in the large cleanroom with the garment used and without a final DHMR cycle this levels can not be reached. The text looks like NASA managment is looking for an OK from the PP Officer. From the regulations NASA has accepted this is impossible if they want to do it anyway they have to go through COSPAR and a amendment to the rules. I hope they get this through in the year they have until they reach the RLS.

Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #4 on: 06/26/2016 06:52 PM »
More details in this article.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a21507/curiosity-will-photograph-possibly-sample-water-on-mars/

This is pertinent to PP from the article.

Quote
If images taken with Curiosity's MastCam camera confirm that the hilly region nearby has periodically flowing liquid water, then NASA will consider sending the rover to take a sample, a decision that ultimately would fall to the "planetary protection officer," the person in charge of ensuring that spacecraft don't mistakenly contaminate another celestial body with microorganisms from Earth.

Green says it is likely that any microorganisms that managed to survive Curiosity's sterilization process before launch have since been killed by the radiation and extreme conditions on Mars. It will take extensive analysis, however, to approve the rover to travel to the RSL region, where it could collect material and even use its ChemCam laser to vaporize a sample and spectrographically analyze it to determine its composition. Curiosity is unlikely to determine definitely whether life exists on Mars, but the rover could provide valuable data for a future mission designed for that purpose.
« Last Edit: 06/26/2016 06:58 PM by Star One »

Offline stone

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #5 on: 06/26/2016 08:27 PM »
" Curiosity's sterilization process before launch "
There was no sterilization. Most parts of Curiosity got a wipe with i-propanol/water and were sampled afterward.
The last spacecraft wide sterilization was done on Viking.

Offline hop

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #6 on: 06/26/2016 08:46 PM »
Looks they have made the decision to carry out further investigations of the recurring slope lineae.

Quote
Scientists have already found hints of liquid water on Mars... now, they want to take a close look at it. NASA has revealed that the Curiosity rover will investigate recurring slope lineae (those streaks you see above) around Mars' Gale Crater in hopes of finding water. It'll first take a photo with its mast camera to verify that there's water in the first place. If there is, the machine will head over to collect samples. The agency would like to take those photos within a year, so you wouldn't have to wait too long to get answers.

https://www.engadget.com/2016/06/25/curiosity-rover-may-sample-mars-water/
The quoted article seems to be inaccurate to me. The actual NASA release says nothing about sampling, only approaching within range to image with RMI (a few km) http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1915

If the RSLs are in fact driven by water, that would make it a "special" region and pretty much rule out approaching close enough to sample anything.

Quoting from the nasa release
Quote
“It’s not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. “Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?”

Quote
There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity’s reach, on the side of the 3.1-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp. The rover’s Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.

How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? “That’s exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process,” said Catharine Conley, NASA’s planetary protection officer. “Kilometers away -- it’s unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay.”

Offline sghill

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #7 on: 07/01/2016 06:53 PM »
It'll be nice to see Curiosity getting back into the mainstream media.
Bring the thunder Elon!

Offline gospacex

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #8 on: 07/01/2016 09:58 PM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.

Offline Star One

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #9 on: 07/02/2016 08:22 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.

In this case I don't thing as being too paranoid about protection, better than some overly  cavalier attitude.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #10 on: 07/05/2016 01:00 AM »
I heard about this nine months ago. It's been in close-held discussion for quite awhile. They have been running simulations to try and figure out how much the vehicle has been sterilized since it has been on the surface. The tires are clean now, because they've been scraped by kilometers of Martian dirt. The surfaces of the vehicle have also been baked by UV and other radiation. So they're trying to determine how clean that makes them. Plus, if they're not going to touch the dirt, there should be no problem.

The real question would be any part of the rover that they want to touch the dirt with. How dirty is it after all this time? Can they make a convincing case to the PP people?

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #11 on: 07/05/2016 01:41 PM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #12 on: 07/05/2016 02:21 PM »
Is there any more information on these RSL on Mt Sharp? I wasn't aware there even were any!!
"One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree -- make sure you understand the fundamental principles, ie the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." - Elon Musk
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #13 on: 07/05/2016 03:04 PM »
Is there any more information on these RSL on Mt Sharp? I wasn't aware there even were any!!

Dig around. I think it was in a press release last August or September. I don't know a lot of details, but I think they are much more ambiguous than the other ones. Not as good.

Offline Star One

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Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #14 on: 07/11/2016 06:43 AM »
New related paper.

Geologic context of recurring slope lineae in Melas and Coprates Chasmata, Mars

Quote
Abstract

One of the major Mars discoveries of recent years is the existence of recurring slope lineae (RSL), which suggests that liquid water occurs on or near the surface of Mars today. These dark and narrow features emerge from steep, rocky exposures and incrementally grow, fade, and reform on a seasonal basis and are detected in images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera. RSL are known to occur at scattered midlatitude and equatorial sites with little spatial connection to one another. One major exception is the steep, low-albedo slopes of Melas and Coprates Chasmata, in Valles Marineris where RSL are detected among diverse geologic surfaces (e.g., bedrock and talus) and landforms (e.g., inselbergs and landslides). New images show topographic changes including sediment deposition on active RSL slopes. Midwall locations in Coprates and Melas appear to have more areally extensively abundant RSL and related fans as compared with other RSL sites found on Mars. Water budget estimates for regional RSL are on the order of 105 to 106 m3 of fluid, for depths of 10 to 100 mm, and suggest that a significant amount of near-surface water might be present. Many RSL are concentrated near local topographic highs, such as ridge crests or peaks, which is challenging to explain via groundwater or ice without a recharge mechanism. Collectively, results provide additional support for the notion that significant amounts of near-surface water can be found on Mars today and suggest that a widespread mechanism, possibly related to the atmosphere, is recharging RSL sources.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015JE004991/full

Summation article.

Bad News, Wannabe Martians: The Water on Mars May Not Be Drinkable

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a21744/water-mars-not-drinkable/
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 06:46 AM by Star One »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #15 on: 07/23/2016 06:02 AM »
US society is getting way too paranoid about "safety" and "protection" of just about anything.
I take it you're not a biologist? I am, and I can guarantee you it is not possible to be too paranoid when it comes to contamination of biological samples.

Yes it is, if it prevents you from doing the work.
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #16 on: 07/23/2016 06:05 AM »
I heard about this nine months ago. It's been in close-held discussion for quite awhile. They have been running simulations to try and figure out how much the vehicle has been sterilized since it has been on the surface. The tires are clean now, because they've been scraped by kilometers of Martian dirt. The surfaces of the vehicle have also been baked by UV and other radiation. So they're trying to determine how clean that makes them. Plus, if they're not going to touch the dirt, there should be no problem.

The real question would be any part of the rover that they want to touch the dirt with. How dirty is it after all this time? Can they make a convincing case to the PP people?

It's going to be difficult to study the RSL without getting into some contact with it.  Other than oblique high resolution imagery and some elemental chemistry from CheMin.

Ideally you would want to get a DAN profile across one, plus sample the RSL itself with a scoop and run it through SAM.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #17 on: 07/23/2016 06:06 AM »
Is there any more information on these RSL on Mt Sharp? I wasn't aware there even were any!!

Dig around. I think it was in a press release last August or September. I don't know a lot of details, but I think they are much more ambiguous than the other ones. Not as good.

Has there been any peer reviewed publication?  I am not aware of anything except a passing reference in a media release.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Online redliox

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #18 on: 07/23/2016 10:46 AM »
Regarding RSL at Gale Crater, I haven't seen any obvious news sources although thanks to twitter I finally found this:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6542
Quote
Ever since it was announced that there may be evidence of liquid water on present-day Mars, NASA scientists have wondered how best to further investigate these long, seasonally changing dark streaks in the hope of finding evidence of life -- past or present -- on the Red Planet.

"It's not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil," said Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science. "Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?"

Pending approval of a mission extension, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will continue to climb to progressively higher and younger strata on Mount Sharp, investigating how long the ancient, water-rich environments found so far persisted as Mars dried out. Reaching those destinations would bring the rover closer to locations where dark streaks are present on some slopes. On the way, the route would allow the one-ton rover to capture images of the potential water sites from miles away and see if any are the seasonally changing type.

The features of interest have been observed by NASA's High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). They appear as dark lines that appear to ebb and flow over time. Planetary scientists think these gullies or recurring slope lineae (RSLs) may appear seasonally as a form of briny water at or near the surface of the Red Planet under warmer conditions.

There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity's reach, on the side of the 3.1-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp. The rover's Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.

How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? "That's exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process," said Catharine Conley, NASA's planetary protection officer. "Kilometers away -- it's unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay."

So, basically, Curiosity will image the RSL at Gale Crater from the top of Mount Sharp, but not likely get anywhere near them physically.  The drive over to them would be far enough even if it were a straight line, which is complicated by the fact you're driving a rover down a mountain, weaving through sharp rocks, and using wheels that have already been punctured.  So, even with another mission extension in the future, it's unlikely Curiosity will visit the RSL even ignoring contamination concerns.

I think Curiosity will be occupied enough with sifting through its mountain for would-be-fossil-beds.  The real question to ponder should be whether Mars 2020 will sample a RSL; a few tubes pulled out of them ought to settle whether Mars is currently habitable or not.
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Curiosity rover may sample Mars water
« Reply #19 on: 07/23/2016 11:08 AM »
Regarding RSL at Gale Crater, I haven't seen any obvious news sources although thanks to twitter I finally found this:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6542
Quote
Ever since it was announced that there may be evidence of liquid water on present-day Mars, NASA scientists have wondered how best to further investigate these long, seasonally changing dark streaks in the hope of finding evidence of life -- past or present -- on the Red Planet.

"It's not as simple as driving a rover to a potential site and taking a scoop of soil," said Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science. "Not only are these on steep slopes, we need to ensure that planetary protection concerns are met. In other words, how can we search for evidence of life without contaminating the sites with bugs from Earth?"

Pending approval of a mission extension, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will continue to climb to progressively higher and younger strata on Mount Sharp, investigating how long the ancient, water-rich environments found so far persisted as Mars dried out. Reaching those destinations would bring the rover closer to locations where dark streaks are present on some slopes. On the way, the route would allow the one-ton rover to capture images of the potential water sites from miles away and see if any are the seasonally changing type.

The features of interest have been observed by NASA's High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). They appear as dark lines that appear to ebb and flow over time. Planetary scientists think these gullies or recurring slope lineae (RSLs) may appear seasonally as a form of briny water at or near the surface of the Red Planet under warmer conditions.

There are two RSL candidates that may be within Curiosity's reach, on the side of the 3.1-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) Mount Sharp. The rover's Remote Micro-Imager (part of ChemCam) would be the main instrument for imaging the possible sites. The goal would be to study the regions over time to see if there are any changes and to rule out other causes for the changes, such as dry avalanches.

How close could the rover safely get to an RSL? "That's exactly the question that needs to be addressed early in the process," said Catharine Conley, NASA's planetary protection officer. "Kilometers away -- it's unlikely that it would be an issue. In terms of coming much closer, we need to understand well in advance the potential for Earth organisms to come off the rover, and that will tell us how far away the rover should stay."

So, basically, Curiosity will image the RSL at Gale Crater from the top of Mount Sharp, but not likely get anywhere near them physically.  The drive over to them would be far enough even if it were a straight line, which is complicated by the fact you're driving a rover down a mountain, weaving through sharp rocks, and using wheels that have already been punctured.  So, even with another mission extension in the future, it's unlikely Curiosity will visit the RSL even ignoring contamination concerns.

I think Curiosity will be occupied enough with sifting through its mountain for would-be-fossil-beds.  The real question to ponder should be whether Mars 2020 will sample a RSL; a few tubes pulled out of them ought to settle whether Mars is currently habitable or not.

The two sites are not that far from the proposed route up Mount Sharp, and would require only relatively minor detours. They are nowhere near the top.  Mind you it may take several more years to get anywhere near them.....
« Last Edit: 07/23/2016 11:09 AM by Dalhousie »
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

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