Author Topic: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread  (Read 678372 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
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

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

Offline 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

Offline Star One

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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
"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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