вторник, 6 августа 2019 г.

New Finds for Mars Rover, Seven Years After Landing


NASA — Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) logo.


Aug. 5, 2019



Image above: This panorama of a location called «Teal Ridge» was captured on Mars by the Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on NASA’s Curiosity rover on June 18, 2019, the 2,440th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


NASA’s Curiosity rover has come a long way since touching down on Mars seven years ago. It has traveled a total of 13 miles (21 kilometers) and ascended 1,207 feet (368 meters) to its current location. Along the way, Curiosity discovered Mars had the conditions to support microbial life in the ancient past, among other things.


And the rover is far from done, having just drilled its 22nd sample from the Martian surface. It has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations. After that, careful budgeting of its power will allow the rover to keep studying the Red Planet.




Image above: NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took this selfie on May 12, 2019 (the 2,405th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). To the lower-left of the rover are its two recent drill holes, at targets called «Aberlady» and «Kilmarie.» Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


Curiosity is now halfway through a region scientists call the «clay-bearing unit» on the side of Mount Sharp, inside of Gale Crater. Billions of years ago, there were streams and lakes within the crater. Water altered the sediment deposited within the lakes, leaving behind lots of clay minerals in the region. That clay signal was first detected from space by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) a few years before Curiosity launched.


«This area is one of the reasons we came to Gale Crater,» said Kristen Bennett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the co-leads for Curiosity’s clay-unit campaign. «We’ve been studying orbiter images of this area for 10 years, and we’re finally able to take a look up close.»



NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover Explores Teal Ridge (360 View)

Video above: Curiosity captured this 360-degree panorama of a location on Mars called “Teal Ridge” on June 18, 2019. This location is part of a larger region the rover has been exploring called the “clay-bearing unit” on the side of Mount Sharp, which is inside Gale Crater. Video Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


Rock samples that the rover has drilled here have revealed the highest amounts of clay minerals found during the mission. But Curiosity has detected similarly high amounts of clay on other parts of Mount Sharp, including in areas where MRO didn’t detect clay. That’s led scientists to wonder what is causing the findings from orbit and the surface to differ.


The science team is thinking through possible reasons as to why the clay minerals here stood out to MRO. The rover encountered a «parking lot full of gravel and pebbles» when it first entered the area, said the campaign’s other co-lead, Valerie Fox of Caltech. One idea is that the pebbles are the key: Although the individual pebbles are too small for MRO to see, they may collectively appear to the orbiter as a single clay signal scattered across the area. Dust also settles more readily over flat rocks than it does over the pebbles; that same dust can obscure the signals seen from space. The pebbles were too small for Curiosity to drill into, so the science team is looking for other clues to solve this puzzle.



Image above: This mosaic of images shows layers of sediment on a boulder-sized rock called «Strathdon,» as seen by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera carried by NASA’s Curiosity rover. The images were taken on July 10, 2019, the 2,462nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


Curiosity exited the pebble parking lot back in June and started to encounter more complex geologic features. It stopped to take a 360-degree panorama at an outcrop called «Teal Ridge.» More recently, it took detailed images of «Strathdon,» a rock made of dozens of sediment layers that have hardened into a brittle, wavy heap. Unlike the thin, flat layers associated with lake sediments Curiosity has studied, the wavy layers in these features suggest a more dynamic environment. Wind, flowing water or both could have shaped this area.


Both Teal Ridge and Strathdon represent changes in the landscape. «We’re seeing an evolution in the ancient lake environment recorded in these rocks,» said Fox. «It wasn’t just a static lake. It’s helping us move from a simplistic view of Mars going from wet to dry. Instead of a linear process, the history of water was more complicated.»



Image above: This mosaic of images shows a boulder-sized rock called «Strathdon,» which is made up of many complex layers. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took these images using its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on July 9, 2019, the 2,461st Martian sol, or day, of the mission. Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.


Curiosity is discovering a richer, more complex story behind the water on Mount Sharp — a process Fox likened to finally being able to read the paragraphs in a book — a dense book, with pages torn out, but a fascinating tale to piece together.


NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leads the Mars Science Laboratory mission that includes Curiosity.


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


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


https://nasa.gov/msl


Images (mentioned), Video (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Jon Nelson/Alana Johnson/JPL/Andrew Good.


Best regards, Orbiter.ch Archive link


Комментариев нет:

Featured

UFO sighting in Odessa UA НЛО шар плазмы UFO sighting in Odessa UA, white orb An unusual-looking object appeared suddenly in the sky at...

Popular