Here’s a follow up on the post about the Curiosity findings pointing to the existence of Martian lakes in the past.
Seems like a good place to put a rover to search for biologic evidence.
NOW I am a believer. Ok, so I was before, but this is so cool!
The only problem now is just a zillion more new and old questions, for example: How much, when, where did it go, how long was it there where did it go etc.
And the big one of course: was there life associated with the water and all the rest.
Here is the caption from NASA for the image:
This evenly layered rock photographed by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover shows a pattern typical of a lake-floor sedimentary deposit not far from where flowing water entered a lake.
The scene combines multiple frames taken with Mastcam’s right-eye camera on Aug. 7, 2014, during the 712th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars. It shows an outcrop at the edge of “Hidden Valley,” seen from the valley floor. This view spans about 5 feet (1.5 meters) across in the foreground. The color has been approximately white-balanced to resemble how the scene would appear under daytime lighting conditions on Earth. Figure A is a version with a superimposed scale bar of 50 centimeters (about 20 inches).
This is an example of a thick-laminated, evenly-stratified rock type that forms stratigraphically beneath cross-bedded sandstones regarded as ancient river deposits. These rocks are interpreted to record sedimentation in a lake, as part of or in front of a delta, where plumes of river sediment settled out of the water column and onto the lake floor.
An image from Curiosity’s Mastcam (left cam) showing surface texture on Mars. A thin coating of dust is starting to accumulate on Curiosity, but so far it looks pretty good. I am not sure of the image scale.
The image was taken on 23 November 2014 in the Mount Sharp area where it has been driving around taking a look for good sites to examine.
Second Time Through, Mars Rover Examines Chosen Rocks.
This is the (annotated) view of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring from the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity about two-and-a-half hours before the close encounter with Mars.
You will notice some cosmic ray hits are labeled. Very common artifact as anyone who dabbles even a little in astrophotography will attest. This image has been processed to remove detector artifacts and a slight twilight glow. The processing was very well done, sometimes the processing is half the fun.
You can see more images, including a blink between two frames from Opportunity. Do have a look.
Here’s a look at Widowiak Ridge on Mars from the rover Opportunity on sol 3,786! The color approximates natural color on Mars.
The ridge is on the western rim of Endeavour crater, this look is about 70 compass degrees from north-northwest on the left to east-northeast on the right. Widowiak Ridge rises about 12 meters / 40 feet and runs about 150 meters / 500 feet. The view of the area from above.
The name Widowiak is an informal name given to the feature given as a tribute to Opportunity science team member Thomas J. Wdowiak (1939-2013). Informal? Perhaps an exception to the naming convention is in order.
If you have a pair of 3D glasses (Red on left eye, Blue on right eye) there is a really nice 3D image on a companion image.
Another view in false color is located here, no 3D but if you have the glasses take a look anyway. I quite liked it.
It’s been a while since I posted a Curiosity update. The rover has reached Mt. Sharp and has conducted a drill sample and will be analyzing it very shortly.
An update on the activity of the Curiosity Rover hosted by Curiosity Rover Mission Scientist Katie Stack.
A picture of the Martian landscape but not from Curiosity. This is the the Navcam view from Opportunity.
Yes, Opportunity is still doing science on Mars after 3,749 Martian days when this image was taken (10 August 2014).
Last week I mentioned the Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity was at an interesting rock and mission managers were evaluating it to see if it would be a good choice for a sample collection (see the post).
Before there is a sample collection Curiosity uses the mini-drill procedure to aide in evaluating the location. Part of using the percussive drill for making a starter hole, probably akin to a hammer drill many of us use now and then. During the starter hole step Bonanza King moved a little bit and the protective software on Curiosity sensed it and stopped the procedure.
Mission managers decided to move on towards the long term goal of reaching Mount Sharp. Maybe they will find something interesting along the way.
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.