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Billion-Pixel View From Curiosity at Rocknest, Mars

Curiosity Rover’s Secret Historic Breakthrough? Speculation Centers on Organic Molecules

November 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Much of the internet is buzzing over upcoming “big news” from NASA’s Curiosity rover, but the space agency’s scientists are keeping quiet about the details.

The report comes by way of the rover’s principal investigator, geologist John Grotzinger of Caltech, who said that Curiosity has uncovered exciting new results from a sample of Martian soil recently scooped up and placed in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

“This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” Grotzinger told NPR in an segment published Nov. 20. Curiosity’s SAM instrument contains a vast array of tools that can vaporize soil and rocks to analyze them and measure the abundances of certain light elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – chemicals typically associated with life.

The mystery will be revealed shortly, though. Grotzinger told Wired through e-mail that NASA would hold a press conference about the results during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from Dec. 3 to 7. Because it’s so potentially earth-shaking, Grotzinger said the team remains cautious and is checking and double-checking their results. But while NASA is refusing to discuss the findings with anyone outside the team, especially reporters, other scientists are free to speculate.

Read more:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/curiosity-historic-news-organics/

 

Mars Rock Touched by NASA Curiosity Has Surprises

October 12, 2012 1 comment

ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2012) — The first Martian rock NASA’s Curiosity rover has reached out to touch presents a more varied composition than expected from previous missions. The rock also resembles some unusual rocks from Earth’s interior.

Target: Jake Matijevic Rock. This image shows where NASA’s Curiosity rover aimed two different instruments to study a rock known as “Jake Matijevic.” (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The rover team used two instruments on Curiosity to study the chemical makeup of the football-size rock called “Jake Matijevic” (matt-EE-oh-vick). The results support some surprising recent measurements and provide an example of why identifying rocks’ composition is such a major emphasis of the mission. Rock compositions tell stories about unseen environments and planetary processes.

“This rock is a close match in chemical composition to an unusual but well-known type of igneous rock found in many volcanic provinces on Earth,” said Edward Stolper of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, who is a Curiosity co-investigator. “With only one Martian rock of this type, it is difficult to know whether the same processes were involved, but it is a reasonable place to start thinking about its origin.”

Mars rover Curiosity scoops, detects bright object


This image from the right Mast Camera (Mastcam) of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity shows a scoop full of sand and dust lifted by the rover’s first use of the scoop on its robotic arm. In the foreground, near the bottom of the image, a bright object is visible on the ground. The object might be a piece of rover hardware. This image was taken during the mission’s 61st Martian day, or sol (Oct. 7, 2012), the same sol as the first scooping. After examining Sol 61 imaging, the rover team decided to refrain from using the arm on Sol 62 (Oct. 8). Instead, the rover was instructed to acquire additional imaging of the bright object, on Sol 62, to aid the team in assessing possible impact, if any, to sampling activities. For scale, the scoop is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide, 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) long. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSSRead more: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-mars-rover-curiosity-scoops-bright.html

Mars rover Curiosity finds evidence of ancient fast-moving streams on surface of red planet

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The Nasa rover Curiosity has beamed pictures back from the red planet that appear to show the remnants of an ancient stream which once ‘ran vigorously’ on the surface of Mars.

The discovery of bedrock and pebbles, which appear to indicate there was once fast moving water on the planet, was described by the mission’s chief scientist as ‘exciting’.

Pebbles, that appear to have been rounded off by water, have offered the most convincing evidence yet that there was water on the surface of Mars.

Read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/mars-rover-curiosity-finds-evidence-of-ancient-fastmoving-streams-on-surface-of-red-planet-8189797.html

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Reveals Geological Mystery: Spherical Objects Unlike Previously Found ‘Blueberries’

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2012) — NASA’s long-lived rover Opportunity has returned an image of the Martian surface that is puzzling researchers.

Small spherical objects fill the field in this mosaic combining four images from the Microscopic Imager on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ USGS/Modesto Junior College)
 

Spherical objects concentrated at an outcrop Opportunity reached last week differ in several ways from iron-rich spherules nicknamed “blueberries” the rover found at its landing site in early 2004 and at many other locations to date.

Opportunity is investigating an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The spheres measure as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter. The analysis is still preliminary, but it indicates that these spheres do not have the high iron content of Martian blueberries.

“This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission,” said Opportunity’s principal investigator, Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “Kirkwood is chock full of a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects. Of course, we immediately thought of the blueberries, but this is something different. We never have seen such a dense accumulation of spherules in a rock outcrop on Mars.”

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120914154003.htm

 

Mars Curiosity Descent – Ultra HD 30fps Smooth-Motion

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment