Author Topic: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread  (Read 809647 times)

Offline penguin44

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1420 on: 04/14/2018 05:54 AM »
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.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1421 on: 04/26/2018 01:37 AM »
Clear as mud: Desiccation cracks help reveal the shape of water on Mars

https://phys.org/news/2018-04-mud-desiccation-reveal-mars.html

Link to paper (open access) https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article/530329/?searchresult=1
"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 Phil Stooke

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1422 on: 04/26/2018 02:08 AM »
"I'm still puzzled that the 'official' map appears to be neglected...."

That map which was posted above is not an official map!  It's just some rover fan fuddle-duddling around on the internet.

The official maps are here and they are up to date most of the time.

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

 :)
« Last Edit: 04/26/2018 02:12 AM by Phil Stooke »

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1423 on: 05/26/2018 10:20 AM »
Drilling Success: Curiosity is Collecting Mars Rocks

" first drilled sample on Mars in more than a year"

" This technique, called Feed Extended Drilling, keeps the drill's bit extended out past two stabilizer posts that were originally used to steady the drill against Martian rocks. It lets Curiosity drill using the force of its robotic arm, a little more like the way a human would drill into a wall at home."

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7137

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1424 on: 06/05/2018 10:24 AM »
Mars Curiosity's Labs Are Back in Action

NASA's Curiosity rover is analyzing drilled samples on Mars in one of its onboard labs for the first time in more than a year.

Curiosity's drill is now permanently extended. That new configuration no longer gives it access to a special device that sieves and portions drilled samples in precise amounts.


https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2018-125&rn=news.xml&rst=7149

Offline Bubbinski

There’s a press conference Thursday about a result from the mission. What did Curiosity find?

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-host-live-discussion-on-new-mars-science-results/
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Don2

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1426 on: 06/06/2018 08:32 AM »
So who is at the Thursday press conference?
Paul Mahaffy =  PI of the SAM instrument on Curiosity
Jen Eigenbrode whose bio states " She specializes in the use of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) in the analysis of lipids and other hydrocarbons in rocks, ice, and biological samples." She is a biogeochemist.
Chris Webster, who is linked to the tunable laser spectrometer which is the part of SAM which sniffs for methane
Project leader Ashwin Vasavada

It seems pretty obvious that this is an important result from SAM, and it likely concerns organics and/or methane.

SAM did something weird a few months ago. Emily Lakdawalla reported that they had done a wet chemistry experiment on some of the black sand they scooped up from the dunes. This qualifies as weird because the black sand dunes are about the least promising environment imaginable for organics preservation. Blowing sand is exposed to a healthy dose of uv, space radiation and perchlorates.

An abstract from the 2018 LPSC meeting indicates that the wet chemistry experiment had produced some new and interesting products which they were trying to identify. The fact that the derivatization agent reacted points to the presence of oxygen containing organic molecules with acid and alcohol functional groups. Such molecules tend to decompose to carbon and water at high temperature, hence the need for converting them into something more stable which can reach the detectors of the mass spectrometer.

 An LPSC paper described the data as exciting.

Link to LPSC paper: https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2018/pdf/2351.pdf
Another LPSC paper: https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2018/pdf/1558.pdf

Offline catdlr

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1427 on: 06/06/2018 06:44 PM »
NASA to Host Live Discussion on New Mars Science Results

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7152

Quote
The media and public are invited to ask questions during a live discussion at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) Thursday, June 7, on new science results from NASA's Mars Curiosity rover. The results are embargoed by the journal Science until then.

The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

Michelle Thaller, assistant director of science for communications, in NASA's Planetary Science Division will host the chat. Participants include:

Paul Mahaffy, director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland
Jen Eigenbrode, research scientist at Goddard
Chris Webster, senior research fellow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist, JPL
The public can send questions on social media by using #askNASA. The event can also be watched on Facebook Live, Twitch TV, Ustream, YouTube and Twitter/Periscope.

For information about NASA's Curiosity rover, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/msl

« Last Edit: 06/06/2018 06:45 PM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Online Chris Bergin

Webcast:

Online Chris Bergin

They've found organic compounds. More "there was previously life on Mars".

--

12 mins in, they add these results came from two years ago!
« Last Edit: 06/07/2018 06:13 PM by Chris Bergin »

Online Chris Bergin

"But this doesn't mean there was life. It could have been from an external source like meteors."

Online Chris Bergin

And a season cycle of Methane spikes.

They seem rather excited about it.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1432 on: 06/07/2018 06:10 PM »
Explaining SAM and its mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph, with graphics!

Expanding on the landing site in Gale Crater.

Expanding on the molecules deduced to exist there, from the use of the MS and GC in SAM:
Mention of alkanes and aromatic organic molecules;
kerogen and thiophene.

Organic substances being found at/near the surface--a surprise to some researchers.

Geologic seasonal driven chemical reactions could be the source of hydrogen, which would react in the atmosphere to produce CH4.

Some very good questions!
***

My observation: The seasonality of methane concentration has caught my attention.
It would be familiar to astronomers of the late 19th/early 20th centuries observing the seasonal "wave of darkening."
***

I probably won't be able to watch/post for the whole presentation.
« Last Edit: 06/07/2018 06:33 PM by zubenelgenubi »
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Online Chris Bergin

June 07, 2018
RELEASE 18-050
NASA Finds Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane on Mars


NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

“With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

“The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter,” said Eigenbrode. “Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper.”

Seasonal Methane Releases

In the second paper, scientists describe the discovery of seasonal variations in methane in the Martian atmosphere over the course of nearly three Mars years, which is almost six Earth years. This variation was detected by Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite.

Water-rock chemistry might have generated the methane, but scientists cannot rule out the possibility of biological origins. Methane previously had been detected in Mars' atmosphere in large, unpredictable plumes. This new result shows that low levels of methane within Gale Crater repeatedly peak in warm, summer months and drop in the winter every year.

"This is the first time we've seen something repeatable in the methane story, so it offers us a handle in understanding it," said Chris Webster of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, lead author of the second paper. "This is all possible because of Curiosity's longevity. The long duration has allowed us to see the patterns in this seasonal 'breathing.'"

Finding Organic Molecules

To identify organic material in the Martian soil, Curiosity drilled into sedimentary rocks known as mudstone from four areas in Gale Crater. This mudstone gradually formed billions of years ago from silt that accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake. The rock samples were analyzed by SAM, which uses an oven to heat the samples (in excess of 900 degrees Fahrenheit, or 500 degrees Celsius) to release organic molecules from the powdered rock.

SAM measured small organic molecules that came off the mudstone sample – fragments of larger organic molecules that don’t vaporize easily. Some of these fragments contain sulfur, which could have helped preserve them in the same way sulfur is used to make car tires more durable, according to Eigenbrode.

The results also indicate organic carbon concentrations on the order of 10 parts per million or more. This is close to the amount observed in Martian meteorites and about 100 times greater than prior detections of organic carbon on Mars’ surface. Some of the molecules identified include thiophenes, benzene, toluene, and small carbon chains, such as propane or butene.

In 2013, SAM detected some organic molecules containing chlorine in rocks at the deepest point in the crater. This new discovery builds on the inventory of molecules detected in the ancient lake sediments on Mars and helps explains why they were preserved.

Finding methane in the atmosphere and ancient carbon preserved on the surface gives scientists confidence that NASA's Mars 2020 rover and ESA’s (European Space Agency's) ExoMars rover will find even more organics, both on the surface and in the shallow subsurface.

These results also inform scientists’ decisions as they work to find answers to questions concerning the possibility of life on Mars.

“Are there signs of life on Mars?” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. “We don’t know, but these results tell us we are on the right track.”

This work was funded by NASA's Mars Exploration Program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. Goddard provided the SAM instrument. JPL built the rover and manages the project for SMD.

For video and images of the findings, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/mediaresources

Information on NASA’s Mars activities is available online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/mars

-end-

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1434 on: 06/07/2018 11:22 PM »
A nice article by Tanya Harrison on the background and significance of the announcement:

Quote
The Curious Case of Methane on Mars

Today NASA held a press conference to announce the results of two papers released in Science this week: One on atmospheric methane, and one on organics in the soil, both from Curiosity rover data.

https://medium.com/@tanyaofmars/the-curious-case-of-methane-on-mars-a06526b30d87

Offline Don2

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1435 on: 06/07/2018 11:31 PM »
It turns out that today's announcement has nothing to do with the wet chemistry experiment that they ran on the sand dune material. That's a pity, as I think those results will be interesting when they finally get around to publishing them.

What they announced today was kerogen. When kerogen in rocks is heated it turns into crude oil, or natural gas if the temperature is high enough. Kerogen rich rocks can be heated in a furnace to produce a synthetic crude oil. Kerogen on earth is formed when microscopic organisms in the ocean die and are buried in the sediment.

Kerogen on earth almost always has sulfur associated with it. The scientists announced today that they are also seeing sulfur in the Martian kerogen. Oil and gas rich areas on earth often have methane seeps, and the Curiosity rover is detecting some methane in the atmosphere from an unknown source.

The bottom line is that what Curiosity is detecting is exactly what you would expect if ancient Martian organisms were living in Lake Gale 3.5 billion years ago. The difference is that kerogen deposits on earth are usually tens of millions of years old, not billions of years old as is the case on Mars. Also, Earth sediments tend to be much richer in organic molecules, with abundances in the parts per thousand range rather than the 10 parts per million range reported for Mars.

I think the difference in abundances is important. While there are several ways to make organics, it is biology that makes organics in vast quantities. Meteorite infall and water-rock interactions are not responsible for oil or coal deposits on earth because they do not produce organics in large enough quantities to matter. I have seen a range of numbers for the organic abundances in Gale Crater rocks. Some sources indicate parts per billion levels, while some LPSC abstracts seem to be indicating parts per thousand levels, which is comparable to sedimentary rocks on Earth. Today's announcement of 10 parts per million falls in the middle of that range. I have a feeling that the problems the SAM instrument has had with oxychlorine compounds make it very difficult to get accurate abundance numbers.

The 2020 rover will have organic detection instruments that are not affected by oxychlorine compounds and will hopefully produce accurate abundances for any rock with an organic level of more than 1ppm. They should provide results far more quickly, without the need for time consuming drill stops that Curiosity needs.

Online redliox

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1436 on: 06/08/2018 01:24 AM »
The bottom line is that what Curiosity is detecting is exactly what you would expect if ancient Martian organisms were living in Lake Gale 3.5 billion years ago. The difference is that kerogen deposits on earth are usually tens of millions of years old, not billions of years old as is the case on Mars.

The massive deposits from the Carboniferous Period were over 300 million years old, but nonetheless even this is barely a tenth the age of what's at Gale.

The 2020 rover will have organic detection instruments that are not affected by oxychlorine compounds and will hopefully produce accurate abundances for any rock with an organic level of more than 1ppm. They should provide results far more quickly, without the need for time consuming drill stops that Curiosity needs.

The significance of the Gale Crater's discoveries almost warrants reconsidering sending 2020 there.  All the same, similar if not better deposits at Gusev and the Jezero/Syrtis area.  I like to think Curiosity as a prelude to what 2020 may find.
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Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1437 on: 06/08/2018 02:33 AM »
The significance of the Gale Crater's discoveries almost warrants reconsidering sending 2020 there.  All the same, similar if not better deposits at Gusev and the Jezero/Syrtis area.  I like to think Curiosity as a prelude to what 2020 may find.
I could not closely watch the entire conference, but one of the programmatic "take-aways" appeared to me to be:
A progression of more finely designed and capable scientific instruments aboard landers/rovers will allow the discovery of answers to more and more complex questions.

Curiosity > Mars 2020 Rover/Exomars 2020 Rover > Mars Sample Return
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Offline Star One

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LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1438 on: 06/08/2018 10:56 AM »
It turns out that today's announcement has nothing to do with the wet chemistry experiment that they ran on the sand dune material. That's a pity, as I think those results will be interesting when they finally get around to publishing them.

What they announced today was kerogen. When kerogen in rocks is heated it turns into crude oil, or natural gas if the temperature is high enough. Kerogen rich rocks can be heated in a furnace to produce a synthetic crude oil. Kerogen on earth is formed when microscopic organisms in the ocean die and are buried in the sediment.

Kerogen on earth almost always has sulfur associated with it. The scientists announced today that they are also seeing sulfur in the Martian kerogen. Oil and gas rich areas on earth often have methane seeps, and the Curiosity rover is detecting some methane in the atmosphere from an unknown source.

The bottom line is that what Curiosity is detecting is exactly what you would expect if ancient Martian organisms were living in Lake Gale 3.5 billion years ago. The difference is that kerogen deposits on earth are usually tens of millions of years old, not billions of years old as is the case on Mars. Also, Earth sediments tend to be much richer in organic molecules, with abundances in the parts per thousand range rather than the 10 parts per million range reported for Mars.

I think the difference in abundances is important. While there are several ways to make organics, it is biology that makes organics in vast quantities. Meteorite infall and water-rock interactions are not responsible for oil or coal deposits on earth because they do not produce organics in large enough quantities to matter. I have seen a range of numbers for the organic abundances in Gale Crater rocks. Some sources indicate parts per billion levels, while some LPSC abstracts seem to be indicating parts per thousand levels, which is comparable to sedimentary rocks on Earth. Today's announcement of 10 parts per million falls in the middle of that range. I have a feeling that the problems the SAM instrument has had with oxychlorine compounds make it very difficult to get accurate abundance numbers.

The 2020 rover will have organic detection instruments that are not affected by oxychlorine compounds and will hopefully produce accurate abundances for any rock with an organic level of more than 1ppm. They should provide results far more quickly, without the need for time consuming drill stops that Curiosity needs.

I’d thought Exomars would be more suitable for this work. After all that’s what TGO & the rover are specifically designed to look into matters such as the ones related to this announcement.

The significance of the Gale Crater's discoveries almost warrants reconsidering sending 2020 there.  All the same, similar if not better deposits at Gusev and the Jezero/Syrtis area.  I like to think Curiosity as a prelude to what 2020 may find.
I could not closely watch the entire conference, but one of the programmatic "take-aways" appeared to me to be:
A progression of more finely designed and capable scientific instruments aboard landers/rovers will allow the discovery of answers to more and more complex questions.

Curiosity > Mars 2020 Rover/Exomars 2020 Rover > Mars Sample Return

That’s if the place isn’t full of people thanks to Musk.
« Last Edit: 06/08/2018 10:59 AM by Star One »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: LIVE: MSL Curiosity Post Landing SOL 1 onwards Update Thread
« Reply #1439 on: 06/08/2018 12:29 PM »
You can download the organic molecules paper from here http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6393/1096

And the methane paper from here http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6393/1093
"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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