Author Topic: NASA - MRO updates  (Read 84112 times)

Offline Star One

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NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #220 on: 09/27/2015 08:45 PM »
So the way I read it is "Seasonal martian flows turn out to be the solution that's been staring us in the face for ten years"?

Seems like it.

This seems pretty significant finding on the face of it. As it must change the probability of life being found on Mars. Also kind of useful for any future humans living on Mars.

Hmm... Perhaps it's just me but it seems like ever since the giant smack in the face that was the discoveries of the early Mariner missions, talk of water on mars has been spoken almost... hushed and reluctant. A very conservative approach to it, a reluctance to risk repeating that situation. The fact it's taken quite this long to really determine that they are indeed water - or rather, I should say, conclude that they're water. The prevailing explanation has been ever since the discovery of these flows is that they're flows of water/brine, but suggesting extant liquid water on mars perhaps seemed like too much too fast  :P

That Boston Herald article was interesting reading as it suggested any organisation that in this case has taken a very conservative approach, literally taking years to come to the conclusion they are apparently announcing tomorrow. Smacks still of them getting their fingers burnt over that Martian meteorite and the supposed hints of life from years back.
« Last Edit: 09/27/2015 09:03 PM by Star One »

Online Blackstar

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #221 on: 09/27/2015 09:01 PM »
That Boston Herald article was interesting reading as it suggested any organisation that in this case has taken a very conservative approach, literally taking years to come to the conclusion they are apparently announcing tomorrow. Smacks still of them getting their fingers burnt over that Martian meteorite and the supposed hints of life from years back.

If Alfred McEwen is involved, he has a very methodical and conservative approach to this stuff. I don't think it is the meteorite issue as much as the personalities of those involved.

Offline Star One

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NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #222 on: 09/27/2015 09:03 PM »
« Last Edit: 09/28/2015 06:20 AM by Star One »

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #223 on: 09/28/2015 04:19 AM »
That Boston Herald article was interesting reading as it suggested any organisation that in this case has taken a very conservative approach, literally taking years to come to the conclusion they are apparently announcing tomorrow. Smacks still of them getting their fingers burnt over that Martian meteorite and the supposed hints of life from years back.

Oh yeah. ALH84001 was a big jolt too. I knew I was missing an example from my ramble.

Offline rdale

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #224 on: 09/28/2015 12:30 PM »
I think the bigger news is that this will lead to a manned mission "soon" per CBS.

"The discovery of a free-flowing water source on the planet -- which Kaku called the "Holy Grail" of planetary science -- means that a manned mission to Mars could soon get off the ground."

:)

Offline DatUser14

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #225 on: 09/28/2015 12:56 PM »
Speaking of, is there going to be official coverage of the news conference? I might be able to provide some, I'm on break during the time it is happening.
Titan IVB was a cool rocket

Offline rdale

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #226 on: 09/28/2015 01:07 PM »
My post was sarcastic :) Seth B posted that he's seen the report and it's nowhere near with Kaiku says.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #227 on: 09/28/2015 01:16 PM »
One of the panel members submitted an abstract to the European Planetary Science Congress 2015 about the recurring slope lineae which ends with this line:
http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2015/EPSC2015-786-1.pdf
Quote
If RSL form via atmospheric deliquescence, then they are likely eutectic brines with temperatures and water activities too low to support terrestrial life
So not ruling a habitable environment out completely but not leaving the door very open. It will be interesting to see if this is still the conclusion they have reached at today's announcement.

Online Chris Bergin

Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #228 on: 09/28/2015 03:54 PM »

Online Chris Bergin

Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #229 on: 09/28/2015 06:00 PM »

Offline cdleonard

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #230 on: 09/29/2015 10:30 AM »
I've been reading up on the MRO and it seems to me that the HiRISE camera can scan at a much higher data rate than can be transmitted, making the orbiter effectively limited by storage and especially transmission speed. Is this accurate?

Somehow I always assumed that mars probes could send data at the rate it's collected. Suddenly space-based laser communications and a mars telecom orbiter make a lot more sense.

Online Blackstar

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #231 on: 09/29/2015 04:14 PM »
I've heard, anecdotally, that just about every planetary science spacecraft gathers more data than it can transmit. So data management and figuring out what is important to transmit is an inherent part of designing a mission.

They always need more bandwidth, but it's not a simple case that they are dumping stuff and they would not dump it if they had more bandwidth. They'll probably always have more than they can transmit. I think that the issue is more about the slope--bandwidth is increasing slowly, but the amount of data gathered is increasing much more rapidly (think high-res imagers).
« Last Edit: 09/29/2015 07:56 PM by Blackstar »

Offline vjkane

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #232 on: 09/30/2015 03:08 AM »
I've heard, anecdotally, that just about every planetary science spacecraft gathers more data than it can transmit. So data management and figuring out what is important to transmit is an inherent part of designing a mission.

They always need more bandwidth, but it's not a simple case that they are dumping stuff and they would not dump it if they had more bandwidth. They'll probably always have more than they can transmit. I think that the issue is more about the slope--bandwidth is increasing slowly, but the amount of data gathered is increasing much more rapidly (think high-res imagers).
One of the best arguments for a follow-on orbiter to MRO is the higher bandwidth, both Ka-band and laser. 

One can also imagine a Hi-RISE-class image with multiple spectral bands into the near-IR.  Such an imager has been proposed.  A meter or two resolution imager that does bands from the near to mid-IR range that would cover key spectral bands for features such as gully salts (among others) would be useful.

Online zubenelgenubi

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #233 on: 11/22/2015 10:53 PM »
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4757
Memory Rewritten, as Planned, on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Mission Status Report

The team operating NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has completed a planned flash-memory rewrite on one of the spacecraft's redundant computers. The orbiter has resumed communication-relay service and science observations. Similar updating of the other onboard computer's flash memory is planned for early 2016.

UPDATED ON NOV. 9, 2015, AT 11:00 a.m. PT


Tables stored in flash memory aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) tell locations of Earth and the sun for the past 10 years, but not their locations next year. That needs to be changed. Carefully.

The long-lived orbiter relies on these tables to recover in the event of an unplanned computer shutdown. When the spacecraft computer reboots, it checks to see where it should position the antenna for communication and, even more critically, where it should position the solar arrays for power. Flash memory is "nonvolatile" -- meaning that it retains information even while the power is off -- so it works well for this backup role.

The tables were loaded before the spacecraft's Aug. 12, 2005, launch and they cover location information through July 12, 2016. To be safe, the mission team plans to begin updating them next week. Doing so will require intentionally rebooting the onboard computer during a one-week suspension of MRO's science observations and communication relay duty. Both of NASA's active Mars rovers will use a different NASA Mars orbiter, Odyssey, for relaying their data to Earth while MRO is out of service.

Sixteen times since launch, MRO has experienced unplanned reboots that relied on the stored tables for recovery of the spacecraft. Managers anticipate that such events will continue to happen in coming years.

"Updating what's in the memory is essential for spacecraft safety and for extending the mission," said MRO Project Manager Dan Johnston at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

To update the location tables, engineers will rewrite the entire content of the nonvolatile memory on the spacecraft. The orbiter has two identical computers for redundancy, with only one of them active at a time. Each computer has its own nonvolatile memory unavailable to the other, so the rewrite needs to be done twice. The "Side B" computer has been active since an unplanned side swap in April 2015. The plan is to rewrite that computer's nonvolatile memory starting on Nov. 2. The procedure for "Side A" will follow in early 2016.

The contents of each computer's 256 megabytes of nonvolatile memory include backup copies of vital computer-operation files. "It's the fundamental operating system of the spacecraft. That's what adds risk," Johnston said. "Just like with your home computer: If you mess with the operating system, the computer won't work."

Since MRO launched, the mission team has rewritten the nonvolatile memory just once, in 2009. The Side B rewrite next week will follow procedures similar to those used successfully in 2009, but with an added safeguard. After a partial rewrite, an intentional reboot will be commanded, to confirm that the newly recorded information is usable. If it is not, sufficient information from the 2009 rewrite would still be still available as backup for a successful reboot. After confirmation that the partial rewrite is successful, the rest of the memory contents will be replaced.

Though it is already in its fourth mission extension, MRO could remain a cornerstone of NASA's Mars Exploration Program fleet for years to come. The longevity of the mission has given researchers tools to study seasonal and longer-term changes on Mars, including recently discovered seasonal activity of salty liquid water. Among other current activities, the orbiter is examining possible landing sites for future missions to Mars and relaying communications to Earth from Mars rovers.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the MRO Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the orbiter and supports its operations. For more information about MRO, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mro

http://mars.nasa.gov/mro
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Offline Star One

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #234 on: 05/26/2016 08:48 PM »
Mars is emerging from an ice age that ended about 400,000 years ago
Climate change affects the Red Planet as well

Quote
Todayís study was based on predictions that 400,000 years ago such a shift in the planetís axis took place. The researchers used radar instruments onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a NASA spacecraft thatís orbiting Mars. They analyzed the radar images of the ice deposits within the planetís polar ice caps, looking out for signs of erosion and other features, like so-called spiral troughs that are created by the wind. Tracing these features can reveal how ice accumulated and retreated through time. The researchers confirmed that around 400,000 years ago an ice age ended. Since the end of that ice age, about 87,000 cubic kilometers of ice accumulated at the poles, especially in the north pole. Thatís exciting, because 400,000 years is pretty recent when talking about planets in the Solar System.

http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/26/11772702/mars-ice-age-climate-change

Offline bolun

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #235 on: 12/12/2016 08:33 PM »
New evidence for a warmer and wetter early mars

06 December 2016

A recent study from ESA's Mars Express and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provides new evidence for a warm young Mars that hosted water across a geologically long timescale, rather than in short episodic bursts Ė something that has important consequences for habitability and the possibility of past life on the planet.

http://sci.esa.int/mars-express/58613-new-evidence-for-a-warmer-and-wetter-early-mars/

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #236 on: 07/26/2017 06:47 PM »
More hints of Martian hot springs may hold promise for Mars 2020 mission

Quote
Ancient hot springs may have bubbled up at a spot just south of the Martian equator. Left-behind mineral deposits described in a new study are not the first evidence of such features on Mars. But if confirmed, the discovery could affect where NASAís Mars 2020 mission rover lands to start its hunt for signs of life.

The spot scrutinized in the new study is called Margaritifer Terra. This heavily cratered site with lots of fractures in its surface may have formed from magma or melting rock from asteroid impacts. Analysis of high-resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests not all of the siteís features resulted from volcanic activity or heavy hits to the Martian surface. Certain ridges along fractures in one of the regionís impact craters have mineral deposits that may have come from the upwelling of water from ancient hot springs, researchers report July 15 in Geophysical Research Letters.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/more-hints-martian-hot-springs-may-hold-promise-mars-2020-mission

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #237 on: 01/23/2018 08:32 PM »
Dust Storms Linked to Gas Escape from Mars Atmosphere

Quote
Some Mars experts are eager and optimistic for a dust storm this year to grow so grand it darkens skies around the entire Red Planet.

This biggest type of phenomenon in the environment of modern Mars could be examined as never before possible, using the combination of spacecraft now at Mars.

A study published this week based on observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) during the most recent Martian global dust storm -- in 2007 -- suggests such storms play a role in the ongoing process of gas escaping from the top of Mars' atmosphere. That process long ago transformed wetter, warmer ancient Mars into today's arid, frozen planet.

"We found there's an increase in water vapor in the middle atmosphere in connection with dust storms," said Nicholas Heavens of Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia, lead author of the report in Nature Astronomy. "Water vapor is carried up with the same air mass rising with the dust."

A link between the presence of water vapor in Mars' middle atmosphere -- roughly 30 to 60 miles (50 to 100 kilometers) high -- and escape of hydrogen from the top of the atmosphere has been detected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, but mainly in years without the dramatic changes produced in a global dust storm. NASA's MAVEN mission arrived at Mars in 2014 to study the process of atmosphere escape.

"It would be great to have a global dust storm we could observe with all the assets now at Mars, and that could happen this year," said David Kass of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. He is a co-author of the new report and deputy principal investigator for the instrument that is the main source of data for it, MRO's Mars Climate Sounder.

Not all Mars watchers are thrilled with the idea of a global dust storm, which can adversely affect ongoing missions. For instance: Opportunity, as a solar powered rover, would have to hunker down to save energy; the upcoming InSight lander's parameters would need to be adjusted for safe entry, descent and landing in November; and all the cameras on rovers and orbiters would need to deal with low visibility.

Decades of Mars observations document a pattern of multiple regional dust storms arising during the northern spring and summer. In most Martian years, which are nearly twice as long as Earth years, all the regional storms dissipate and none swells into a global dust storm. But such expansion happened in 1977, 1982, 1994, 2001 and 2007. The next Martian dust storm season is expected to begin this summer and last into early 2019.

The Mars Climate Sounder on MRO can scan the atmosphere to directly detect dust and ice particles and can indirectly sense water vapor concentrations from effects on temperature. Heavens and co-authors of the new paper report the sounder's data show slight increases in middle-atmosphere water vapor during regional dust storms and reveal a sharp jump in the altitude reached by water vapor during the 2007 global dust storm. Using recently refined analysis methods for the 2007 data, the researchers found an increase in water vapor by more than a hundred-fold in the middle atmosphere during that global storm.

Before MAVEN reached Mars, many scientists expected to see loss of hydrogen from the top of the atmosphere occurring at a rather steady rate, with variation tied to changes in the solar wind's flow of charged particles from the Sun. Data from MAVEN and Mars Express haven't fit that pattern, instead showing a pattern that appears more related to Martian seasons than to solar activity. Heavens and coauthors present the dust storms' hoisting of water vapor to higher altitudes as a likely key to the seasonal pattern in hydrogen escape from the top of the atmosphere. MAVEN observations during the stronger effects of a global dust storm could boost understanding of their possible link to the escape of gas from the atmosphere.

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2018-012&rn=news.xml&rst=7041

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #238 on: 02/19/2018 08:25 PM »
Mars Orbiter on Precautionary Standby Status

MARS RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER MISSION STATUS REPORT

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), at Mars since 2006, put itself into a precautionary standby mode on Feb. 15 in response to sensing an unexpectedly low battery voltage.

The orbiter is solar-powered but relies on a pair of nickel-hydrogen batteries during periods when it is in the shadow of Mars for a portion of each orbit. The two are used together, maintaining almost identical charge during normal operations.

The spacecraft remains in communication with Earth and has been maintaining safe, stable temperatures and power, but has suspended its science observations and its service as a communications relay for Mars rovers. Normal voltage has been restored, and the spacecraft is being monitored continuously until the troubleshooting is complete.

"We're in the diagnostic stage, to better understand the behavior of the batteries and ways to give ourselves more options for managing them in the future," said MRO Project Manager Dan Johnston of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "We will restore MRO's service as a relay for other missions as soon as we can do so with confidence in spacecraft safety -- likely in about one week. After that, we will resume science observations."

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter entered orbit around the Red Planet on March 10, 2006. Since then, it has returned more data than all other past and current interplanetary missions combined, with a tally of more than 317 terabits so far.

The mission met all its science goals in a two-year primary science phase. Five extensions, the latest beginning in 2016, have added to the science returns. The longevity of the mission has given researchers tools to study seasonal and longer-term changes on Mars. Among other current activities, the orbiter is examining possible landing sites for future missions to Mars and relaying communications to Earth from NASA's two active Mars rovers.

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space, Denver, built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it. For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/mro

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

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA - MRO updates
« Reply #239 on: 08/17/2018 06:50 AM »
Beaker From The Muppets Was Just Spotted on Mars

Quote
Astronomers were just looking through photographs received from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Monday, when they noticed something slightly out of place.

There, on the surface of the enigmatic Red Planet, in one of the few regions not obscured by a dust storm, was none other than the wide-eyed Beaker - the shy and ill-fated assistant of Dr Bunsen Honeydew from The Muppet Show.

Well, no, not actually. That would be absurd. But the resemblance is striking and you practically can't unsee it once spotted.

https://www.sciencealert.com/beaker-from-the-muppets-was-just-spotted-on-mars

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