Posts tagged Mars
After a decade of exploring the Martian surface, the scientists overseeing veteran rover Opportunity thought they’d seen it all. That was until a rock mysteriously “appeared” a few feet in front of the six wheeled rover a few days ago. Read more
Before you say “ALIENS!” the random rock probably hasn’t been placed there by Martians… probably.
Mars plays host to a huge number of dune fields — regions where fine wind-blown material gets deposited to form arguably some of the most beautiful dunes that can be found on any planetary body in the solar system. Using the powerful High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, planetary scientists have an orbital view on these features that aid our understanding of aeolian (wind-formed) processes and Martian geology. Here are some of our favorite Mars dunes as seen by HiRISE.
On Sunday, at 5:17 p.m. GMT (12:17 p.m. EST), Europe’s Mars Express orbiter successfully completed a daring low-pass of Mars’ largest moon Phobos. In an effort to precisely measure the gravitational field of the moon, the 10 year-old mission was sent on a trajectory that took it only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the dusty surface, the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the natural satellite. Read more
The “before” and “after” shots of Curiosity’s wheels are pretty striking. Although the rover’s wheels are designed to sustain significant damage without putting the mission at risk, mission managers are assessing a recent acceleration in perforations and rips in the wheels’ aluminum. See more photos
In May, Discovery News reported the dramatic signs of wear and tear on Mars rover Curiosity’s wheels. The aircraft-grade aluminum material appeared scratched, dented, even punctured. At the time, lead rover driver Matt Heverly said that the damage was to be expected. “The ‘skin’ of the wheel is only 0.75mm thick and we expect dents, dings, and even a few holes due to the wheels interacting with the rocks,” he said via email. Despite the assurances that the holes were just a part of Curiosity’s mission, there seems to be increasing concern for the wheels’ worsening condition after the one-ton robot rolled over some craggy terrain. Read more
DNews’ Anthony gets more than a little excited by the most recent Curiosity “water on Mars” announcement… and with good reason!
Yesterday was a BIG day for Mars exploration — the first scoop of Mars soil analyzed by NASA’s Mars Science Lab in October is 2% water by weight. This is groundbreaking as this will be a valuable resource for future colonists and could have ramifications for the continuing search of microbial life on Mars. Find out more
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, nicknamed MAVEN, is designed to provide some answers as to why Mars’ atmosphere was stripped into space. From its orbital perch around Mars, MAVEN will track how the solar wind picks away at the planet’s thin atmosphere. The information will then be used to create computer models that move backward in time so scientists can determine when the planet was most suited for life and how long that period lasted. Read more