Author Topic: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread  (Read 823141 times)

Offline Star One

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1400 on: 03/22/2017 08:15 PM »
MARS SCIENCE LABORATORY MISSION STATUS REPORT
A routine check of the aluminum wheels on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has found two small breaks on the rover's left middle wheel-the latest sign of wear and tear as the rover continues its journey, now approaching the 10-mile (16 kilometer) mark.
The mission's first and second breaks in raised treads, called grousers, appeared in a March 19 image check of the wheels, documenting that these breaks occurred after the last check, on Jan. 27.
"All six wheels have more than enough working lifespan remaining to get the vehicle to all destinations planned for the mission," said Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "While not unexpected, this damage is the first sign that the left middle wheel is nearing a wheel-wear milestone,"
The monitoring of wheel damage on Curiosity, plus a program of wheel-longevity testing on Earth, was initiated after dents and holes in the wheels were seen to be accumulating faster than anticipated in 2013. Testing showed that at the point when three grousers on a wheel have broken, that wheel has reached about 60 percent of its useful life. Curiosity already has driven well over that fraction of the total distance needed for reaching the key regions of scientific interest on Mars' Mount Sharp.
Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, also at JPL, said, "This is an expected part of the life cycle of the wheels and at this point does not change our current science plans or diminish our chances of studying key transitions in mineralogy higher on Mount Sharp."
Curiosity is currently examining sand dunes partway up a geological unit called the Murray formation. Planned destinations ahead include the hematite-containing "Vera Rubin Ridge," a clay-containing geological unit above that ridge, and a sulfate-containing unit above the clay unit.
The rover is climbing to sequentially higher and younger layers of lower Mount Sharp to investigate how the region's ancient climate changed billions of years ago. Clues about environmental conditions are recorded in the rock layers. During its first year on Mars, the mission succeeded at its main goal by finding that the region once offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, if Mars has ever hosted life. The conditions in long-lived ancient freshwater Martian lake environments included all of the key chemical elements needed for life as we know it, plus a chemical source of energy that is used by many microbes on Earth.
Through March 20, Curiosity has driven 9.9 miles (16.0 kilometers) since the mission's August 2012 landing on Mars. Studying the transition to the sulfate unit, the farthest-uphill destination, will require about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) or less of additional driving. For the past four years, rover drive planners have used enhanced methods of mapping potentially hazardous terrains to reduce the pace of damage from sharp, embedded rocks along the rover's route.
Each of Curiosity's six wheels is about 20 inches (50 centimeters) in diameter and 16 inches (40 centimeters) wide, milled out of solid aluminum. The wheels contact ground with a skin that's about half as thick as a U.S. dime, except at thicker treads. The grousers are 19 zigzag-shaped treads that extend about a quarter inch (three-fourths of a centimeter) outward from the skin of each wheel. The grousers bear much of the rover's weight and provide most of the traction and ability to traverse over uneven terrain.
JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's rover, Curiosity. For more information about the mission, visit:
http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/
2017-079
Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
[email protected]

https://marsmobile.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2017/breaks-observed-in-rover-wheel-treads

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1401 on: 03/23/2017 05:23 AM »
Here's the image that goes with the update.

Offline Star One

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1402 on: 03/23/2017 06:36 AM »
Mars rover spots clouds shaped by gravity waves

Quote
Well into its fifth year, the rover has now shot more than 500 movies of the clouds above it, including the first ground-based view of martian clouds shaped by gravity waves, researchers reported here this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The shots are the best record made so far of a mysterious recurring belt of equatorial clouds known to influence the martian climate.

Understanding these clouds will help inform estimates of ground ice depth and perhaps recurring slope lineae, potential flows of salty water on the surface, says John Moores, a planetary scientist at York University in Toronto, Canada, who led the study with his graduate student, Jake Kloos. “If we wish to understand the water story of Mars’s past,” Moores says, “we first need to [separate out] contributions from the present-day water cycle.”

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/mars-rover-spots-clouds-shaped-gravity-waves

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1403 on: 06/01/2017 10:24 AM »
‘HALOS’ DISCOVERED ON MARS WIDEN TIME FRAME FOR POTENTIAL LIFE

MIGRATING SILICA REVEALS LIQUID WATER LINGERED LONGER ON RED PLANET

Quote
WASHINGTON, DC — Lighter-toned bedrock that surrounds fractures and comprises high concentrations of silica — called “halos”— has been found in Gale crater on Mars, indicating that the planet had liquid water much longer than previously believed. The new finding is reported in a new paper published today in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

“The concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos,” said Jens Frydenvang, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Copenhagen and lead author of the new study. “What we’re seeing is that silica appears to have migrated between very old sedimentary bedrock and into younger overlying rocks. The goal of NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has been to find out if Mars was ever habitable, and it has been very successful in showing that Gale crater once held a lake with water that we would even have been able to drink, but we still don’t know how long this habitable environment endured. What this finding tells us is that, even when the lake eventually evaporated, substantial amounts of groundwater were present for much longer than we previously thought—thus further expanding the window for when life might have existed on Mars.”

http://news.agu.org/press-release/halos-discovered-on-mars-widen-time-frame-for-potential-life/

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1404 on: 06/04/2017 07:32 AM »
Curiosity Peels Back Layers on Ancient Martian Lake

A long-lasting lake on ancient Mars provided stable environmental conditions that differed significantly from one part of the lake to another, according to a comprehensive look at findings from the first three-and-a-half years of NASA's Curiosity rover mission.


https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/curiosity-peels-back-layers-on-ancient-martian-lake
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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1405 on: 07/12/2017 01:30 PM »
Quote
NASA’s new algorithm to conserve Curiosity’s wheels
by Lee Cavendish, 30 June 2017

The rough terrain of the Red Planet has produced problems for the Mars rover, but a new algorithm can now help reduce the effect

https://www.spaceanswers.com/solar-system/nasas-new-algorithm-to-conserve-curiositys-wheels/

Offline catdlr

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1406 on: 08/02/2017 08:37 PM »
Curiosity’s First Five Years of Science on Mars

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Published on Aug 2, 2017


Five years of Martian discoveries after seven minutes of terror.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxvODcuFb1s?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline catdlr

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1407 on: 08/02/2017 08:37 PM »
Rover POV: Five Years of Curiosity Driving on Mars

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Published on Aug 2, 2017

Five years of images from the front left hazard avoidance camera (Hazcam) on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover were used to create this time-lapse movie. The inset map shows the rover's location in Mars' Gale Crater. Each image is labeled with the date it was taken, and its corresponding sol (Martian day), along with information about the rover's location at the time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0nPFaBU98k?t=001

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Offline catdlr

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1408 on: 08/02/2017 08:38 PM »
A Guide to Gale Crater

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Published on Aug 2, 2017

The Curiosity rover has taught us a lot about the history of Mars and its potential to support life.  Take a tour of its landing site, Gale Crater.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-uAz82sH-E?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1409 on: 09/06/2017 10:27 PM »
In situ detection of boron by ChemCam on Mars

Quote
Abstract

We report the first in situ detection of boron on Mars. Boron has been detected in Gale crater at levels <0.05 wt % B by the NASA Curiosity rover ChemCam instrument in calcium-sulfate-filled fractures, which formed in a late-stage groundwater circulating mainly in phyllosilicate-rich bedrock interpreted as lacustrine in origin. We consider two main groundwater-driven hypotheses to explain the presence of boron in the veins: leaching of borates out of bedrock or the redistribution of borate by dissolution of borate-bearing evaporite deposits. Our results suggest that an evaporation mechanism is most likely, implying that Gale groundwaters were mildly alkaline. On Earth, boron may be a necessary component for the origin of life; on Mars, its presence suggests that subsurface groundwater conditions could have supported prebiotic chemical reactions if organics were also present and provides additional support for the past habitability of Gale crater.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GL074480/abstract;jsessionid=1486F968F76584896B762BB83AFBA60A.f02t04

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1410 on: 09/18/2017 08:24 PM »
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover climbing toward ridge top

Quote
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.

“Vera Rubin Ridge” stands prominently on the northwestern flank of Mount Sharp, resisting erosion better than the less-steep portions of the mountain below and above it. The ridge, also called “Hematite Ridge,” was informally named earlier this year in honor of pioneering astrophysicist Vera Rubin.

“As we skirted around the base of the ridge this summer, we had the opportunity to observe the large vertical exposure of rock layers that make up the bottom part of the ridge,” said Fraeman, who organized the rover’s ridge campaign. “But even though steep cliffs are great for exposing the stratifications, they’re not so good for driving up.”

The ascent to the top of the ridge from a transition in rock-layer appearance at the bottom of it will gain about 213 feet (65 meters) of elevation — about 20 stories. The climb requires a series of drives totaling a little more than a third of a mile (570 meters). Before starting this ascent in early September, Curiosity had gained a total of about 980 feet (about 300 meters) in elevation in drives totaling 10.76 miles (17.32 kilometers) from its landing site to the base of the ridge.

Curiosity’s telephoto observations of the ridge from just beneath it show finer layering, with extensive bright veins of varying widths cutting through the layers.

“Now we’ll have a chance to examine the layers up close as the rover climbs,” Fraeman said.

https://astronomynow.com/2017/09/18/nasas-curiosity-mars-rover-climbing-toward-ridge-top/

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1411 on: 10/26/2017 04:17 PM »
Engineers hopeful Mars rover’s drill can return to service

Quote
Engineers have started testing a new way to use the Curiosity rover’s drill to bore into Martian rocks after a motor in the device stalled late last year, but ground teams are still months away from the first chance to resume drilling operations.

The rover has not used its drill since Dec. 1, 2016, when engineers noticed a problem with the drill feed mechanism, a motor which is supposed to extend the drill bit to touch the surface of Martian rocks. Two fang-like contact posts on each side of the drill bit press on the rock for stability, then the drill feed motor pushes the bit onto the rock before percussive and rotating mechanisms start boring into the target to collect a powder sample.

With the drill feed mechanism no longer reliably working, managers have decided to keep the drill bit in its extended position. That raises concerns over the stability of the drill while in use because the prong-like extensions on each side of the bit will no longer be in contact with the rock.

Curiosity touched its drill bit directly onto a Martian rock Oct. 17, according to a press release from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The rover was commanded to press the drill bit downward, then applied smaller sideways forces, according to a statement.

A force sensor took measurements during the test. Engineers want to avoid applying too much side force while the drill is in use to ensure the bit does not get stuck in the rock.

“This is the first time we’ve ever placed the drill bit directly on a Martian rock without stabilizers,” said JPL’s Douglas Klein, chief engineer for the mission’s return-to-drilling development. “The test is to gain better understanding of how the force/torque sensor on the arm provides information about side forces.”

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/10/25/engineers-hopeful-mars-rovers-drill-can-return-to-service/

Offline ByStander

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1412 on: 10/27/2017 10:45 AM »
I can't find any version of Curiosity's traverse map more recent than sol 1830, which is 27 days out of date.

It looks like it's not being updated any more. Does anybody know what the reason is?

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1413 on: 10/27/2017 03:47 PM »
I can't find any version of Curiosity's traverse map more recent than sol 1830, which is 27 days out of date.

It looks like it's not being updated any more. Does anybody know what the reason is?

Try here:

http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=7442&st=1080&start=1080

Offline ByStander

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1414 on: 10/28/2017 02:41 PM »
Thank you.

I'm still puzzled that the 'official' map appears to be neglected. Raw images are still posted on most days, so they are still attending to the public-facing part of the project.

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1415 on: 01/31/2018 07:35 PM »


Curiosity at Martian Scenic Overlook from NASA JPL

Offline robertross

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1416 on: 02/13/2018 09:59 PM »
Tiny Crystal Shapes Get Close Look From Mars Rover

 NEWS | February 8, 2018

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. Another is whether the original mineral that crystallized into these shapes remains in them or was subsequently dissolved away and replaced by something else. Answers may point to evidence of a drying lake or to groundwater that flowed through the sediment after it became cemented into rock.

The rover team also is investigating other clues on the same area to learn more about the Red Planet's history. These include stick-shaped features the size of rice grains, mineral veins with both bright and dark zones, color variations in the bedrock, smoothly horizontal laminations that vary more than tenfold in thickness of individual layers, and more than fourfold variation in the iron content of local rock targets examined by the rover.

"There's just a treasure trove of interesting targets concentrated in this one area," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Each is a clue, and the more clues, the better. It's going to be fun figuring out what it all means."

Vera Rubin Ridge stands out as an erosion-resistant band on the north slope of lower Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater. It was a planned destination for Curiosity even before the rover's 2012 landing on the crater floor near the mountain. The rover began climbing the ridge about five months ago and has now reached the uphill, southern edge. Some features here might be related to a transition to the next destination area uphill, which is called the "Clay Unit" because of clay minerals detected from orbit.

The team drove the rover to a site called "Jura" in mid-January to examine an area where -- even in images from orbit -- the bedrock is noticeably pale and gray, compared to the red, hematite-bearing bedrock forming most of Vera Rubin Ridge.

"These tiny 'V' shapes really caught our attention, but they were not at all the reason we went to that rock," said Curiosity science-team member Abigail Fraeman of JPL. "We were looking at the color change from one area to another. We were lucky to see the crystals. They're so tiny, you don't see them until you're right on them."

The features are about the size of a sesame seed. Some are single elongated crystals. Commonly, two or more coalesce into V-shaped "swallowtails" or more complex "lark's foot" or star configurations. "These shapes are characteristic of gypsum crystals," said Sanjeev Gupta, a Curiosity science-team member at Imperial College, London, who has studied such crystals in rocks of Scotland. Gypsum is a form of calcium sulfate. "These can form when salts become concentrated in water, such as in an evaporating lake."

The finely laminated bedrock at Jura is thought to result from lakebed sedimentation, as has been true in several lower, older geological layers Curiosity has examined. However, an alternative to the crystals forming in an evaporating lake is that they formed much later from salty fluids moving through the rock. That is also a type of evidence Curiosity has documented in multiple geological layers, where subsurface fluids deposited features such as mineral veins.

Some rock targets examined in the Jura area have two-toned mineral veins that formed after the lake sediments had hardened into rock. Brighter portions contain calcium sulfate; darker portions contain more iron. Some of the features shaped like gypsum crystals appear darker than gypsum, are enriched in iron, or are empty. These are clues that the original crystallizing material may have been replaced or removed by later effects of underground water.

The small, stick-shaped features were first seen two days before Curiosity reached Jura. All raw images from Mars rovers are quickly posted online, and some showing the "sticks" drew news-media attention comparing them to fossils. Among the alternative possibilities is that they are bits of the dark vein material. Rover science team members have been more excited about the swallowtails than the sticks.

"So far on this mission, most of the evidence we've seen about ancient lakes in Gale Crater has been for relatively fresh, non-salty water," Vasavada said. "If we start seeing lakes becoming saltier with time, that would help us understand how the environment changed in Gale Crater, and it's consistent with an overall pattern that water on Mars became more scarce over time."

Such a change could be like the difference between freshwater mountain lakes, resupplied often with snowmelt that keeps salts diluted, and salty lakes in deserts, where water evaporates faster than it is replaced.

If the crystals formed inside hardened rock much later, rather than in an evaporating lake, they offer evidence about the chemistry of a wet underground environment.

"In either scenario, these crystals are a new type of evidence that builds the story of persistent water and a long-lived habitable environment on Mars," Vasavada said.

Variations in iron content in the veins, smaller features and surrounding bedrock might provide clues about conditions favorable for microbial life. Iron oxides vary in their solubility in water, with more-oxidized types generally less likely to be dissolved and transported. An environment with a range of oxidation states can provide a battery-like energy gradient exploitable by some types of microbes.

"In upper Vera Rubin Ridge, we see clues that there were fluids carrying iron and, through some mechanism, the iron precipitated out," Fraeman said. "There was a change in fluid chemistry that could be significant for habitability."

For more about NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit:

https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl
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Offline Star One

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1417 on: 03/01/2018 07:54 PM »
Curiosity Tests a New Way to Drill on Mars

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has conducted the first test of a new drilling technique on the Red Planet since its drill stopped working reliably.

This early test produced a hole about a half-inch (1-centimeter) deep at a target called Lake Orcadie -- not enough for a full scientific sample, but enough to validate that the new method works mechanically. This was just the first in what will be a series of tests to determine how well the new drill method can collect samples. If this drill had achieved sufficient depth to collect a sample, the team would have begun testing a new sample delivery process, ultimately delivering to instruments inside the rover.

The drill is used for pulverizing rock samples into powder, which are then deposited into two of Curiosity's laboratory instruments, Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, and Chemistry and Mineralogy, or CheMin. Curiosity has used its drill to collect samples 15 times since landing in 2012. Then, in December of 2016, a key part of the drill stopped working. The drill was designed to use two finger-like stabilizers to steady itself against rock; a faulty motor prevented the drill bit from extending and retracting between these stabilizers.

After months of effort, Curiosity's engineering team was able to extend the drill all the way out past the stabilizers, but the motor issue persisted. The team posed a challenge for themselves: could they hack the space robot's drill so that it didn't require stabilizers?

Images of a new hole on upper Vera Rubin Ridge, Curiosity's current location, suggest this "MacGyvering" is paying off. By leaving the drill in an extended position, engineers were able to practice this freehand drilling for months during testing here on Earth. This hole at Lake Orcadie provides the first insights into how this operation will work in the Martian environment.

If the previous method was like a drill press, holding the bit steady as it extends into a surface, it's now more freehand. The NASA rover is using its entire arm to push the drill forward, re-centering itself while taking measurements with a force sensor. That sensor was originally included to stop the rover's arm if it received a high-force jolt. It now offers Curiosity a vital sense of touch, preventing the drill bit from drifting sideways too much and getting stuck in rock.

"We're now drilling on Mars more like the way you do at home," said Steven Lee, deputyprojectmanager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Humans are pretty good at re-centering the drill, almost without thinking about it. Programming Curiosity to do this by itself was challenging -- especially when it wasn't designed to do that."

It hasn't been easy. JPL engineers spent many double-shifts testing the new method, including on weekends and holidays. They also had to perform "invasive surgery" on their testbed -- a near-exact replica of Curiosity -- installing a force sensor to match the one on Mars. The Earth-based testbed's sensor had stopped working before Curiosity's launch in 2012, but there had never been reason to replace it before now.

"This is a really good sign for the new drilling method," said Doug Klein of JPL, one of Curiosity's sampling engineers. "Next, we have to drill a full-depth hole and demonstrate our new techniques for delivering the sample to Curiosity's two onboard labs."

Leaving the drill in its extended position means it no longer has access to a device that sieves, portions and delivers the rock powder to the rover's instruments (called Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis, or CHIMRA).

JPL also had to invent a new way to deposit the powder without this device. The new solution makes Curiosity look as though it is adding seasoning to its science, shaking out grains from the drill's bit as if it were tapping salt from a shaker.

This tapping has been successfully tested here on Earth -- but Earth's atmosphere and gravity are very different from that of Mars. Whether rock powder on Mars will fall out in the same volume and in a controlled way has yet to be seen.

In the days ahead, Curiosity's engineers will evaluate the results of this recent test and likely drill again nearby. If enough sample is collected, they will test portioning the sample out, using the rover's Mastcam to estimate how much powder can be shaken from the drill bit.

Though this first test of the drill didn't produce a full sample, Curiosity's science team is excited to see this step on the path back to routine drilling. There's high interest in getting multiple drilled samples from Vera Rubin Ridge, especially from the upper ridge that contains both gray and red rocks. The latter are rich in hematite, an iron oxide mineral that forms in the presence of water. Drilled samples might shed light on the origin of the ridge and the history of its interaction with water.

For more information about Curiosity, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/curiosity

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5TWtxRvydE?list=PLTiv_XWHnOZqsp7on1ErHOTweF5eHzOTt

Offline ChrisGebhardt

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1418 on: 03/13/2018 04:46 PM »
Interviewing a Curiosity (MSL) project scientist at 16:00 EDT (20:00 UTC) today.  If you have any questions you'd like me to ask, PM me.  Can't guarantee all submitted questions will be asked, but I'll do my best.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2018 04:46 PM by ChrisGebhardt »

Offline Star One

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1419 on: 03/23/2018 07:40 PM »
Mars Curiosity Celebrates Sol 2,000

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover just hit a new milestone: its two-thousandth Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet. An image mosaic taken by the rover in January offers a preview of what comes next.

Looming over the image is Mount Sharp, the mound Curiosity has been climbing since September 2014. In the center of the image is the rover's next big, scientific target: an area scientists have studied from orbit and have determined contains clay minerals.

The formation of clay minerals requires water. Scientists have already determined that the lower layers of Mount Sharp formed within lakes that once spanned Gale Crater's floor. The area ahead could offer additional insight into the presence of water, how long it may have persisted, and whether the ancient environment may have been suitable for life.

Curiosity's science team is eager to analyze rock samples pulled from the clay-bearing rocks seen in the center of the image. The rover recently started testing its drill again on Mars for the first time since December 2016. A new process for drilling rock samples and delivering them to the rover's onboard laboratories is still being refined in preparation for scientific targets like the area with clay minerals.

Curiosity landed in August 2012 and has traveled 11.6 miles (18.7 kilometers) in that time. In 2013, the mission found evidence of an ancient freshwater-lake environment that offered all the basic chemical ingredients for microbial life. Since reaching Mount Sharp in 2014, Curiosity has examined environments where both waterand wind have left their marks. Having studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock with signs of lakes and groundwater, Curiosity's international science team concluded that habitable conditions lasted for at leastmillions of years.

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, and built the project's Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is available at:

https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/

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