The Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity, recently passed its second anniversary (in Earth years) on Mars. The rover is making its way to Mount Sharp. The base of Mount Sharp is about 3 km from Curiosity’s current location. The mission managers are using “softer” valleys to get there, the idea being to save on the wheel tread of the rover which readers here will know show a bit of wear.
There is an update on the journey in the form of a video from JPL / NASA. In the video they mention interesting sites would be examined on the way. One of those interesting sites is called Bonanza King and thanks to it looking different from the sandstone they have been seeing for a few months. If chosen Bonanza King would be the fourth drilling site. See the video.
For those into weather, we do get some data on Martian weather: on 14 August 2014 the:
Air temp was
Soil temp was
Mean Pressure 758 Pa
The Max temperatures are actually not too bad. The lows though are downright cold. Interesting the minimum soil temperature is colder than the minimum air temperature.
If I did the conversion correctly for comparison, 1-Earth atmosphere is about 101,325 Pa, little wonder there is no water on Mars.
About the image above of Bonanza King from NASA:
In this image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover looking up the ramp at the northeastern end of “Hidden Valley,” a pale outcrop including drilling target “Bonanza King” is at the center of the scene.
Curiosity used its Navigation Camera (Navcam) to capture this northward view during the 709th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Aug. 4, 2014). At that time, Curiosity was on the sand-covered floor of Hidden Valley. Due to unexpectedly high wheel slippage in the sand, the rover team subsequently decided to drive Curiosity out of the valley, up this ramp, to a higher location for examining a possible alternative route.
The ramp area holds several clusters of pale rocks resembling paving stones up to about the size of dinner plates. The team chose one, dubbed Bonanza King, as a candidate for the mission’s fourth drilling into a rock to collect a rock-powder sample for onboard analysis. The candidate target is in the patch of bright rocks between parallel wheel tracks in this image. For scale, the distance between the two tracks is about 9 feet (2.7 meters).
A map showing Hidden Valley is at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA18408
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project’s Curiosity rover and the rover’s Navcam.