Author Topic: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread  (Read 734962 times)

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1360 on: 09/27/2015 05:09 AM »
Perhaps related, a tweet from Emily a while ago said the team has never been planning on really climbing much of the mountain:
Right, from the beginning, there's never been hasn't been much serious talk about going much higher than the clay/sulfate transition, and a lot of the really interesting stuff is lower than that. This is shown in the attached from the extended mission proposal.

edit:
Correction: IIRC there was some talk of maybe eventually getting to the top of the sulfate layers, but that would be after multiple extended missions.

The top of the clay-sulphate transition is about 900m higher than where the rover is now.  So still a substantial climb.

Currently, more than halfway into the extended mission, Curiosity is about about the point next to the first set of numbers. So they are well behind that prediction.

There has been a long history of excessive optimism over what would be achieved emanating from the Curiosity team.  Expectations prior to launch were that it would have covered the round it has in only a few months.  These were cut back before landing, but still well in excess of what was achieved. 

All this was pointed out in a highly critical external review, which JPL seem to have shrugged off.

I think you have to take into account that the Curiosity team has had to make choices as they go along their traverse and see new and fascinating/important things that demand they stop and investigate.

There has never been a "we go to the specified stops and stay there for the specified times and arrive at the specified locations on the specified dates" kind of agenda for Curiosity.  It has always been a plan-as-you-go kind of approach, where the team weighs the important new discoveries to be made on whatever new terrain they find themselves, versus the potential discoveries to be made at places farther along the route.

A tremendous amount of information has come from the investigations thus far.  The primary mission of MSL, to characterize an environment that could have supported life back 3 billion years ago, was achieved in the first few months during its investigations at Yellowknife Bay.  Everything that has come since has been gravy.

Thus, while there are many interesting terrains yet to come, there was never a mission objective that said "We will climb Mt. Sharp and look around Gale from its peak and we will have failed if we don't achieve this."  There was never much interest in Sharp's upper slopes, which are bland and homogeneous-looking, and it's quite likely that Curiosity will get to the various terrain layers that were originally planned to be explored on the lower slopes.

It simply doesn't make sense to rush along, ignoring the wealth of data you're driving past, just to make an arbitrary location by an arbitrary date.  I think the MSL team is doing it right.

No objections with how it's done.  However I do object with the constant over promising compared to what is being delivered. Its unnecessary and counterproductive.
« Last Edit: 07/24/2016 12:09 AM by Dalhousie »
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Online hop

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1361 on: 10/10/2015 08:53 PM »
Recent science paper Deposition, exhumation, and paleoclimate of an ancient lake deposit, Gale crater, Mars (paywall) (NASA news release)

BBC report has a really nice interview covering the background:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34490337

edit:
Paper is now available sans paywall on the MSL site: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/science/researchpapers/
« Last Edit: 10/14/2015 02:43 AM by hop »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1362 on: 10/12/2015 08:45 PM »
Recent science paper Deposition, exhumation, and paleoclimate of an ancient lake deposit, Gale crater, Mars (paywall) (NASA news release)

BBC report has a really nice interview covering the background:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34490337

Very good paper, and a big step towards bringing the science up to date to where the rover is on the ground a few months ago.  I would agree with most of it.
"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 zubenelgenubi

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1363 on: 11/19/2015 07:46 PM »
11.16.2015
NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Heads Toward Active Dunes

Curiosity Rover Will Study Dunes on Route up Mountain
caption: This Sept. 25, 2015, view from the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows a dark sand dune in the middle distance. The rover's examination of dunes on the way toward higher layers of Mount Sharp will be the first in-place study of an active sand dune anywhere other than Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

On its way to higher layers of the mountain where it is investigating how Mars' environment changed billions of years ago, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover will take advantage of a chance to study some modern Martian activity at mobile sand dunes.

Orbital View of Dune That Curiosity Will Visit
caption: This view taken from orbit around Mars shows the sand dune that will be the first to be visited by NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover along its route to higher layers of Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

In the next few days, the rover will get its first close-up look at these dark dunes, called the "Bagnold Dunes," which skirt the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp. No Mars rover has previously visited a sand dune, as opposed to smaller sand ripples or drifts. One dune Curiosity will investigate is as tall as a two-story building and as broad as a football field. The Bagnold Dunes are active: Images from orbit indicate some of them are migrating as much as about 3 feet (1 meter) per Earth year. No active dunes have been visited anywhere in the solar system besides Earth.

"We've planned investigations that will not only tell us about modern dune activity on Mars but will also help us interpret the composition of sandstone layers made from dunes that turned into rock long ago," said Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena, California.

As of Monday, Nov. 16, Curiosity has about 200 yards or meters remaining to drive before reaching "Dune 1." The rover is already monitoring the area's wind direction and speed each day and taking progressively closer images, as part of the dune research campaign. At the dune, it will use its scoop to collect samples for the rover's internal laboratory instruments, and it will use a wheel to scuff into the dune for comparison of the surface to the interior.

Curiosity has driven about 1,033 feet (315 meters) in the past three weeks, since departing an area where its drill sampled two rock targets just 18 days apart. The latest drilled sample, "Greenhorn," is the ninth since Curiosity landed in 2012 and sixth since reaching Mount Sharp last year. The mission is studying how Mars' ancient environment changed from wet conditions favorable for microbial life to harsher, drier conditions.

Before Curiosity's landing, scientists used images from orbit to map the landing region's terrain types in a grid of 140 square quadrants, each about 0.9 mile (1.5 kilometers) wide. Curiosity entered its eighth quadrant this month. It departed one called Arlee, after a geological district in Montana, and drove into one called Windhoek, for a geological district in Namibia. Throughout the mission, the rover team has informally named Martian rocks, hills and other features for locations in the quadrant's namesake area on Earth. There's a new twist for the Windhoek Quadrant: scientists at the Geological Society of Namibia and at the Gobabeb Research and Training Center in Namibia have provided the rover team with a list of Namibian geological place names to use for features in this quadrant. The Windhoek theme was chosen for this sand-dune-bearing quadrant because studies of the Namib Desert have aided interpretation of dune and playa environments on Mars.

What distinguishes actual dunes from windblown ripples of sand or dust, like those found at several sites visited previously by Mars rovers, is that dunes form a downwind face steep enough for sand to slide down. The effect of wind on motion of individual particles in dunes has been studied extensively on Earth, a field pioneered by British military engineer Ralph Bagnold (1896-1990). Curiosity's campaign at the Martian dune field informally named for him will be the first in-place study of dune activity on a planet with lower gravity and less atmosphere.

Observations of the Bagnold Dunes with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that mineral composition is not evenly distributed in the dunes. The same orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment has documented movement of Bagnold Dunes.

"We will use Curiosity to learn whether the wind is actually sorting the minerals in the dunes by how the wind transports particles of different grain size," Ehlmann said.

As an example, the dunes contain olivine, a mineral in dark volcanic rock that is one of the first altered into other minerals by water. If the Bagnold campaign finds that other mineral grains are sorted away from heavier olivine-rich grains by the wind's effects on dune sands, that could help researchers evaluate to what extent low and high amounts of olivine in some ancient sandstones could be caused by wind-sorting rather than differences in alteration by water.

Glimpse of 'Bagnold Dunes' Edging Mount Sharp
caption: The dark band in the lower portion of this Martian scene is part of the "Bagnold Dunes" dune field lining the northwestern edge of Mount Sharp. The scene combines multiple images taken with the Mast Camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Sept. 25, 2015. The view is toward south-southeast. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Ehlmann and Nathan Bridges of the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, lead the Curiosity team's planning for the dune campaign.

"These dunes have a different texture from dunes on Earth," Bridges said. "The ripples on them are much larger than ripples on top of dunes on Earth, and we don't know why. We have models based on the lower air pressure. It takes a higher wind speed to get a particle moving. But now we'll have the first opportunity to make detailed observations."

JPL, managed by Caltech for NASA, built Curiosity and manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about Curiosity, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/msl
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
« Last Edit: 11/19/2015 07:53 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1364 on: 11/24/2015 04:24 AM »
Who was Ralph Bagnold?  A legend, and a singularly appropriate name for these dunes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Alger_Bagnold

He could probably have taught JPL a thing or two about desert travel and would be amazed at the Curiosity rover.

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/168046/

In 1975, at an age of 79, he co-authored a paper with Carl Sagan on martian dunes.
« Last Edit: 11/24/2015 04:31 AM by Dalhousie »
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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1365 on: 12/15/2015 11:53 PM »
Curiosity Rover Report (Dec. 15, 2015): First Visit to Martian Dunes

Published on Dec 15, 2015
Curiosity performs the first investigation of active sand dunes on another planet. Studying the Bagnold Dunes on Mars will help scientists understand the physics of Martian dunes and how they move.

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LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1366 on: 12/21/2015 08:50 PM »
Mars Rover Finds Changing Rocks, Surprising Scientists

Quote
What has caught the attention of Dr. Vasavada and his colleagues lately is silica, a class of minerals made of silicon and oxygen. The evidence points to the action of liquid water even after the lakes disappeared.

“Groundwater passed through the rock multiple times, leaving different chemical signatures behind,” Dr. Vasavada said.

Quote
So we all placed friendly bets on what sort of silica phase we would find,” said Elizabeth Rampe, another member of the science team for Curiosity. “But we could never have predicted this result.”

It was tridymite, a mineral that is rare on Earth and has never seen before on Mars. “And we actually found a lot of it,” Dr. Rampe said.

On Earth, tridymite generally forms at high temperatures in volcanic or metamorphic rocks, not a finely layered sedimentary rock like Buckskin. That may tell something about the origin of the sediments, or it is possible that tridymite forms through a different process on Mars.

In the younger sandstone, the scientists found a different type of silica known as Opal-A along fractures in the rocks.

The scientists hypothesize two possibilities: acidic water washed away the other elements, or neutral water washed in silica that accumulated in the sandstone. “They both involve liquid water,” said Albert Yen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, another science team member. “We’re just trying to figure out the flavor of the water.”

The scientists did not present new findings on organics, the carbon-based molecules that could serve as the building blocks for life. Dr. Vasavada said that signs of organics had been spotted, but the scientists were still analyzing them.

“Stay tuned,” he said. “There are organics in several of these samples we’ve been seeing lately.”

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/science/mars-rover-finds-changing-rocks-surprising-scientists.html
« Last Edit: 12/21/2015 09:01 PM by Star One »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1367 on: 12/22/2015 09:39 AM »
Mars Rover Finds Changing Rocks, Surprising Scientists

Quote
What has caught the attention of Dr. Vasavada and his colleagues lately is silica, a class of minerals made of silicon and oxygen. The evidence points to the action of liquid water even after the lakes disappeared.

“Groundwater passed through the rock multiple times, leaving different chemical signatures behind,” Dr. Vasavada said.

Quote
So we all placed friendly bets on what sort of silica phase we would find,” said Elizabeth Rampe, another member of the science team for Curiosity. “But we could never have predicted this result.”

It was tridymite, a mineral that is rare on Earth and has never seen before on Mars. “And we actually found a lot of it,” Dr. Rampe said.

On Earth, tridymite generally forms at high temperatures in volcanic or metamorphic rocks, not a finely layered sedimentary rock like Buckskin. That may tell something about the origin of the sediments, or it is possible that tridymite forms through a different process on Mars.

In the younger sandstone, the scientists found a different type of silica known as Opal-A along fractures in the rocks.

The scientists hypothesize two possibilities: acidic water washed away the other elements, or neutral water washed in silica that accumulated in the sandstone. “They both involve liquid water,” said Albert Yen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, another science team member. “We’re just trying to figure out the flavor of the water.”

The scientists did not present new findings on organics, the carbon-based molecules that could serve as the building blocks for life. Dr. Vasavada said that signs of organics had been spotted, but the scientists were still analyzing them.

“Stay tuned,” he said. “There are organics in several of these samples we’ve been seeing lately.”

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/science/mars-rover-finds-changing-rocks-surprising-scientists.html

Not mentioned is that tridymite is also a component of another form of opal, opal-CT, where the C stands for a second silica polymorph, cristabolite.  This has yet to be found.  However both opal A and opal CT form through low temperature diagenesis as well as through hydrothermal leaching.
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Offline Star One

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LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1368 on: 12/26/2015 07:59 PM »
Quote
Just in time for the holidays, NASA’s Curiosity rover is celebrating Christmas 2015 at a Red Planet Paradise – spectacular “Namib Dune.” And she marked the occasion by snapping her first ever color self-portrait with the mast mounted high resolution Mastcam 34 mm camera.

Heretofore Curiosity has taken color self portraits with the MAHLI camera mounted at the end of the 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm, and black and white self portraits with the mast mounted navcam camera.

The new Mastcam color self portrait was taken just days ago on December 19, and includes the first ever color images of the rover deck. Previously, Curiosity has used the Mastcam color camera to take tens of thousands of exquisite high resolution panoramic images of the magnificent looking Martian terrain, but not the entire rover deck which includes the inlet ports for the pair of chemistry labs in the robots belly.

Curiosity arrived at the outskirts of Namib Dune in mid-December. And as the images show Namib Dune is humongous and unlike anything encountered before by Curiosity. See our exclusive photo mosaics above and below from the image processing team of Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo.

Why snap a Mastcam self portrait now? Because there’s unique science to be gained from the Red Planets swirling winds whipping up dust and sand particles with the rover now at the edge of the giant dune field at the foothills of Mount Sharp, and to check for buildup of particles on the rover deck.

“The plan includes a Mastcam image of the rover deck to monitor the movement of particles,” wrote MSL science team member Lauren Edgar, Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, in a mission update.

Namib Dune is part of a massive field of spectacular rippled dark sand dunes, known as the “Bagnold Dunes” – located at the base of Mount Sharp and range up to two stories tall.

The six wheeled rover was dispatched to the dunes to conduct humanity’s first up-close investigation of currently active sand dunes anywhere beyond Earth.

“Namib is an Aeolian paradise,” wrote Edgar.

“The view at Namib Dune is pretty spectacular. We’ve received a lot of beautiful Mastcam and Navcam images.”

Article & image gallery on the link.

http://www.universetoday.com/123963/boeing-starliner/
« Last Edit: 12/26/2015 08:00 PM by Star One »

Online robertross

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1369 on: 01/07/2016 12:21 AM »
01.04.2016
Rover Rounds Martian Dune to Get to the Other Side

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, partway through the first up-close study ever conducted of extraterrestrial sand dunes, is providing dramatic views of a dune's steep face, where cascading sand has sculpted very different textures than the wavy ripples visible on the dune's windward slope.

Panoramic scenes dominated by the steep face of a dune called "Namib Dune" are online at these sites:

http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7627
http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7623

Researchers are using Curiosity to examine examples of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes lining the northwestern flank of Mt. Sharp, the layered mountain the rover is climbing. A characteristic that sets true dunes apart from other wind-shaped bodies of sand, such as drifts and ripples previously visited by Mars rovers, is a steep, downwind slope known as the slip face. Here, sand blowing across the windward side of the dune suddenly becomes sheltered from the wind by the dune itself. The sand falls out of the air and builds up on the slope until it becomes steepened and flows in mini-avalanches down the face.

The mission's dune-investigation campaign is designed to increase understanding about how wind moves and sorts grains of sand, in an environment with less gravity and much less atmosphere than well-studied dune fields on Earth. The Bagnold Dunes are active. Sequential images taken from orbit over the course of multiple years show that some of these dunes are migrating by as much as a yard, or meter, per Earth year.

Curiosity has not caught a sand slide in action, but the rover's images of the Namib Dune slip face show where such slides have occurred recently. These dunes likely are most active in Mars' southern summer, rather than in the current late-fall season.

A few days of rover operations were affected in December due to an arm-motion fault, diagnosed as a minor software issue. Normal use of the arm resumed Dec. 23.

Curiosity has been working on Mars since early August 2012. It reached the base of Mount Sharp in 2014 after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain. The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1882
« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 12:21 AM by robertross »
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Offline sghill

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1370 on: 02/01/2016 01:55 PM »
As much as I scoff at the endless selfies sent back from Curiosity.  The new "super selfie" it beamed back is terrific.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/sandy-selfie-sent-from-nasa-mars-rover

"The latest self-portrait from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the car-size mobile laboratory beside a dark dune where it has been scooping and sieving samples of sand.

The new selfie combines 57 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of Curiosity's arm on Jan. 19.

The rover has been investigating a group of active sand dunes for two months, studying how the wind moves and sorts sand particles on Mars. The site is part of Bagnold Dune Field, which lines the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp.

When the component images were taken, the rover had scuffed the edge of "Namib Dune" and collected the first of three scoops of sand from that dune. It used its scoop later to collect a second sample on Jan. 19, and a third on Jan. 22."

You can really see the heavy damage on the leading wheel in the image!

« Last Edit: 02/01/2016 01:56 PM by sghill »
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1372 on: 05/11/2016 07:03 PM »
Curiosity Rover Report (May 11, 2016): Mars Weather Report

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Published on May 11, 2016
After two Martian years, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is more than a geologist, scientist and explorer. It’s a weather reporter, too!

See the changing seasons on Mars, and find out about clouds, frost and methane on the Red Planet.


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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1373 on: 06/10/2016 01:22 AM »
Sols 1364-1365: Analyzing drill sample

Mon, 06 Jun 2016

The Oudam drill campaign continues to go well, with sample acquired and ready for analysis.  Planning is now restricted, so we are planning 2 sols today.  On Sol 1364, ChemCam will acquire passive spectra of the drill tailings and a LIBS raster of the wall of the drill hole.  Later that afternoon, the unsieved portion of the drill sample will be dumped on the ground and imaged by MAHLI from 25 cm to support future planning.  After dark, MAHLI will take pictures of the inside of the drill hole, the tailings, and the CheMin inlet using its LEDs for illumination.  The APXS will then be placed on the drill tailings for an overnight integration.

Early on Sol 1365, the Right Mastcam will extend the mosaic of Hartmann's Valley, adding 22 images.  That afternoon, the APXS will be retracted and vibrated to clean it, then the arm will be moved out of the way for ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the drill tailings.  Navcam will search for clouds both near the horizon and at zenith.  Finally, CheMin will analyze the drill sample overnight.

by Ken Herkenhoff


http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/
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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1374 on: 06/10/2016 01:23 AM »
Sols 1366-1367: Opportunistic contact science

Wed, 08 Jun 2016

The day started off with some changes to the sol path due to some holes in the downlink.  Unfortunately some engineering camera and MAHLI images from Sol 1364 were not fully transmitted, so the team worked quickly to rearrange the intended activities this week.  Fortunately that also meant that we could add in some opportunistic DRT, MAHLI and APXS activities on Sol 1366.

The two-sol plan starts off with ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the Oudam drill hole and tailings, and the nearby target “Omulonga.” We’ll also acquire some Mastcam and Navcam observations to monitor the atmosphere.  In the afternoon of the first sol, we’ll use the DRT, MALHI and APXS to characterize the bedrock target “Aubures” to look for variations in texture and chemistry within the Murray formation.  On the second sol we’ll acquire a 360 degree Mastcam mosaic for geologic context, and a routine SAM electrical baseline test to monitor instrument health.  Hopefully the Navcam images will be retransmitted so we can continue with our drill site characterization activities later this week!

By Lauren Edgar

--Lauren is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center and a member of the MSL science team.

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1375 on: 06/23/2016 12:07 AM »
NASA Scientists Discover Unexpected Mineral on Mars


http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6540&utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NASAJPL&utm_content=daily20160622

Quote
In July 2015, on Sol 1060 (the number of Martian days since landing), the rover collected powder drilled from rock at a location named "Buckskin." Analyzing data from an X-ray diffraction instrument on the rover that identifies minerals, scientists detected significant amounts of a silica mineral called tridymite.

This detection was a surprise to the scientists, because tridymite is generally associated with silicic volcanism, which is known on Earth but was not thought to be important or even present on Mars.
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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1376 on: 06/26/2016 08:50 PM »
For completeness  http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=1915

Quote
NASA Weighs Use of Rover to Image Potential Mars Water Sites
...
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.
...


Thread http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40602.0

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LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1377 on: 07/06/2016 07:29 PM »
Curiosity Rover Enters Precautionary Safe Mode

The team operating NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is taking steps to return the rover to full activity following a precautionary stand-down over the Fourth of July weekend.

Curiosity is now communicating with ground controllers and is stable. The rover put itself into safe mode on July 2, ceasing most activities other than keeping itself healthy and following a prescribed sequence for resuming communications.

Engineers are working to determine the cause of safe-mode entry. Preliminary information indicates an unexpected mismatch between camera software and data-processing software in the main computer. The near-term steps toward resuming full activities begin with requesting more diagnostic information from Curiosity.

Curiosity has entered safe mode three times previously, all during 2013.

The rover landed in Mars' Gale Crater in August 2012. During its first year on Mars, the mission achieved its goal by determining that, more than 3 billion years ago, the region offered fresh-water lakes and rivers with environmental conditions well-suited to supporting microbial life, if life has ever existed on Mars. In continuing investigations, the mission is learning more about the ancient wet environments and how and when they evolved to drier and less habitable conditions.

NASA last week approved an additional two-year extension, beginning Oct. 1, 2016, for the Mars Science Laboratory Project, which developed and operates Curiosity.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6559
« Last Edit: 07/06/2016 07:30 PM by Star One »

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1378 on: 07/21/2016 07:44 PM »
NASA Mars Rover Can Choose Laser Targets on Its Own

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is now selecting rock targets for its laser spectrometer -- the first time autonomous target selection is available for an instrument of this kind on any robotic planetary mission.

Using software developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, Curiosity is now frequently choosing multiple targets per week for a laser and a telescopic camera that are parts of the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument. Most ChemCam targets are still selected by scientists discussing rocks or soil seen in images the rover has sent to Earth, but the autonomous targeting adds a new capability.

During Curiosity's nearly four years on Mars, ChemCam has inspected multiple points on more than 1,400 targets by detecting the color spectrum of plasmas generated when laser pulses zap a target -- more than 350,000 total laser shots at about 10,000 points in all. ChemCam's spectrometers record the wavelengths seen through a telescope while the laser is firing. This information enables scientists to identify the chemical compositions of the targets. Through the same telescope, the instrument takes images that are of the highest resolution available from the rover's mast.

AEGIS software, for Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science, had previously been used on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, though less frequently and for a different type of instrument. That rover uses the software to analyze images from a wide-angle camera as the basis for autonomously selecting rocks to photograph with a narrower-angle camera. Development work on AEGIS won a NASA Software of the Year Award in 2011.

"This autonomy is particularly useful at times when getting the science team in the loop is difficult or impossible -- in the middle of a long drive, perhaps, or when the schedules of Earth, Mars and spacecraft activities lead to delays in sharing information between the planets," said robotics engineer Tara Estlin, the leader of AEGIS development at JPL.

The most frequent application of AEGIS uses onboard computer analysis of images from Curiosity's stereo Navigation Camera (Navcam), which are taken routinely at each location where the rover ends a drive. AEGIS selects a target and directs ChemCam pointing, typically before the Navcam images are transmitted to Earth. This gives the team an extra jump in assessing the rover's latest surroundings and planning operations for upcoming days.

To select a target autonomously, the software's analysis of images uses adjustable criteria specified by scientists, such as identifying rocks based on their size or brightness. The criteria can be changed depending on the rover's surroundings and the scientific goals of the measurements.

Another AEGIS mode starts with images from ChemCam's own Remote Micro-Imager, rather than the Navcam, and uses image analysis to hone pointing of the laser at fine-scale targets chosen in advance by scientists. For example, scientists might select a threadlike vein or a small concretion in a rock, based on images received on Earth. AEGIS then controls the laser sharpshooting.

"Due to their small size and other pointing challenges, hitting these targets accurately with the laser has often required the rover to stay in place while ground operators fine tune pointing parameters," Estlin said. "AEGIS enables these targets to be hit on the first try by automatically identifying them and calculating a pointing that will center a ChemCam measurement on the target."

From the top of Curiosity's mast, the instrument can analyze the composition of a rock or soil target from up to about 23 feet (7 meters) away.

"AEGIS brings an extra opportunity to use ChemCam, to do more, when the interaction with scientists is limited," said ChemCam Science Operation Lead Olivier Gasnault, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (IRAP), of France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the University of Toulouse, France. "It does not replace an existing mode, but complements it."

The U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico leads the U.S. and French team that jointly developed and operates ChemCam. IRAP is a co-developer and shares operation of the instrument with France's national space agency (CNES), NASA and Los Alamos.

The Curiosity mission is using ChemCam and other instruments on the rover as the vehicle investigates geological layers on lower Mount Sharp. The rover's extended mission is analyzing evidence about how the environment in this part of Mars changed billions of years ago from conditions well suited to microbial life -- if life ever existed on Mars -- to dry, inhospitable conditions. For more information about Curiosity, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl


News Media Contact

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

2016-193

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2016-193&rn=news.xml&rst=6575

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1379 on: 08/05/2016 12:23 AM »
Curiosity Rover Report (August 5, 2016): Four Years on Mars

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Published on Aug 4, 2016
After four years on Mars, Curiosity rover and her operations team are now seasoned explorers, anxious to climb to greater heights on Mount Sharp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6t1kxX-EpI?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Tags: updates