Curiosity Posts a Selfie

Curiousity takes a selfie. Click for larger.Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiousity takes a selfie. Click for larger.Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Using the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MHLI) at the end of its arm to take dozens of images of itself (selfies). The images were taken in April and May (2014) while the rover was doing science at the Windjana drilling site.

Winjana is inside a science waypoint called “The Kimberley” and was chosen were sandstone layers with varying exposure to the Martian wind which causes erosion. A great spot for science samples.

What you don’t see in the image is the rover arm. What you can see are the holes drilled by by Curiosity’s drill out in front of the rover. You can spot them left of center and down a little, look for the gray spots. We can see dust accumulating on the rover, not too bad yet.

See this links to more images and details at the NASA site.

A Curious Mercury Transit

A gif of the Mercury transit from Mars. Image via JPL

The Mars Science Laboratory we know as Curiosity recently witnessed a transit of Mercury. We can see the transit captured by the Curiosity Mast cam. This is the first solar transit of a planet viewed from another planet.

Mercury appears to be a faint dot in the images, faint because the planet takes up only about 16 percent of a pixel from such a distance. The two large dots are sun spots, those two spots are each about the size of Earth.

The next Mercury transit visible from Earth will occur on 09 May 2016. From Mars the transits occur more frequently. From Mars: the next Mercury transit will be in April 2015, A Venus transit won’t occur until 2030, and an Earth transit is way out there on the calendar – November 2084.

Note:  I am posting this from a Wifi hotspot because my internet provider is failing me.  I will try to post Wednesday but if you don’t hear from me you will know my connection is still down.  Hopefully not.

Curiosity Update

The sample-collection drill hole on Martian sandstone target called Windjana. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The sample-collection drill hole on Martian sandstone target called Windjana. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Been a while since I’ve put up a Curiosity update.  The rover has been busy as we can see.  The rovers really are marvels, an unimaginably complex project working perfectly..

The NASA/JPL description of the image:

This image from the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows two holes at top center drilled into a sandstone target called “Windjana.” The farther hole, with larger pile of tailings around it, is a full-depth sampling hole. It was created by the rover’s hammering drill while the drill collected rock-powder sample material from the interior of the rock. The nearer hole was created by a shallower test drilling into the rock in preparation for the sample collection. Each hole is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters) in diameter. The full-depth hole is about 2.6 inches (6.5 centimeters) deep, drilled during the 621st Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (May 5, 2014). The test hole is about 0.8 inch (2 centimeters) deep, drilled on Sol 615 (April 29, 2014). This image was taken on Sol 621 (May 5).

Continue reading

Windjana

The next target for Curiosity is Windjana.  Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

The next target for Curiosity is Windjana. Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech

A few Martian days after taking the first asteroid picture (see yesterdays post)Curiosity arrived at a place called “Windjana”.

Windjana is a about 60 cm wide (about 2 ft) on the right half of the image and is a target for a close-up examination and perhaps a drilling to see what’s inside. Have to like being able to do that. Another remarkable thing about this picture is how clean Curiosity is after 609 Martian days.

The sandstone target’s informal name comes from Windjana Gorge in Western Australia. If this target meets criteria set by engineers and scientists, it could become the mission’s third drilled rock and the first that is not mudstone.

The rock is within a waypoint location called “the Kimberley,” where sandstone outcrops with differing resistance to wind erosion result in a stair-step pattern of layers. Windjana is within what the team calls the area’s “middle unit,” because it is intermediate between rocks that form buttes in the area and lower-lying rocks that show a pattern of striations.

Mars Science Laboratory

A Curious First

The Mars rover, Curiosity takes the first image of an asteroid from Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M

The Mars rover, Curiosity takes the first image of an asteroid from Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M

The Curiosity has taken the first image of an asteroid taken from the surface of the Red Planet.

You will notice the asteroids and stars are streaks thanks to the 12 second exposure and the planetary rotation. The Martian rotates about its axis in 24.6 hours, only slightly longer than it does here on Earth.

The other object is the little moon Deimos. The image was taken on Sol 606 or 20 April 2014 (PDT).

Here is the non-annotated version. The moon Deimos appears larger than it normally would because brightness bloating.

Here’s part of NASA’s description

The Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has captured the first image of an asteroid taken from the surface of Mars. The night-sky image actually includes two asteroids: Ceres and Vesta, plus one of Mars’ two moons, Deimos, which may have been an asteroid before being captured into orbit around Mars. The image was taken after nightfall on the 606th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity’s work on Mars (April 20, 2014, PDT). In other camera pointings the same night, the Mastcam also imaged Mars’ larger moon, Phobos, plus the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

I’m looking for the image with the planets.

In the meantime here’s the full article from NASA.

Curiosity’s Driving Map

So far.

Mars driving map. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Here’s a update to Curiosity’s journey on Mars. Looks to be something around 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). Just a guess, I’m sure the actual odometer reading is available on the website, except I couldn’t locate it after a moderate bit of searching.  The Where is Curiosity page has a lot of great stuff and would seem to be the best place to find it. I could try to sift through the archives and see if I can figure it out, that’s a lot of work, maybe I will look around some more first.

If anybody knows what the distance traveled (so far) is OR where to look, please let me know in the comments,  Just curious is all :mrgreen:

From NASA:

This map shows the route driven by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover from the “Bradbury Landing” location where it landed in August 2012 (the start of the line in upper right) to a major waypoint called “the Kimberley.” The rover reached the Kimberley with a 98-foot (30 meter) drive on the 589th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (April 1, 2014).

The Kimberley (formerly called “KMS-9″) was selected as a major waypoint for the mission because of the diversity of rock types distinguishable in orbital images, exposed close together at this location in a decipherable geological relationship to each other.

The base image for this map is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. North is up. The dark ground south of the rover’s route has dunes of dark, wind-blown material at the foot of Mount Sharp. The scale bar at lower right represents one kilometer (0.62 mile).

Oppy’s Selfie

MER Rover Opportunity on Martian day 3609. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity gives us this “selfie”. Okay, so it’s the rover’s shadow, it still counts if you are on Mars because there’s no mirrors.

The image was taken on the 3,609th day on the surface of Mars! That would be 20 March 2014 here on Earth.

Here’s the press release – you can get larger versions at the link too:

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity caught its own silhouette in this late-afternoon image taken by the rover’s rear hazard avoidance camera. This camera is mounted low on the rover and has a wide-angle lens.
The image was taken looking eastward shortly before sunset on the 3,609th Martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s work on Mars (March 20, 2014). The rover’s shadow falls across a slope called the McClure-Beverlin Escarpment on the western rim of Endeavour Crater, where Opportunity is investigating rock layers for evidence about ancient environments. The scene includes a glimpse into the distance across the 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) crater.

Curiosity’s Path

Curiosity gives us this amazing lookback after passing Junda. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity gives us this amazing lookback after passing Junda. Click for larger. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, took this image on sol 548 (19 Feb 2014. The rover was looking back after a days drive. We can see Junda on the left and looking to the left we can see the tracks seemingly coming from the from the background highlands.
This scene would be the envy of any sci-fi illustrator.

From JPL:

The rows of rocks just to the right of the fresh wheel tracks in this view are an outcrop called “Junda.” The rows form striations on the ground, a characteristic seen in some images of this area taken from orbit. A panorama made from Navcam images taken during a pause to observe Junda partway through the Sol 548.

For scale, the distance between Curiosity’s parallel wheel tracks is about 9 feet (2.7 meters). This view is looking toward the east-northeast.

Roving for Ten Years

The first color image returned by the rover Spirit in Jan 2004.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

The first color image returned by the rover Spirit in Jan 2004. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

It’s hard to believe but true, this year marks 10-years of roving the red planet. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed on Mars on 4 January 2004 (UTC).

The image above was taken on 6 January 2004 by the rover Spirit. At the time this was the highest resolution image returned from another planet. It is still one of the best images taken.

A month after the image was taken Spirit used the RAT or Rock Abrasion Tool to drill into a rock dubbed Adirondack (on 6 Feb 2004).

In May of 2009 Spirit got stuck in soft soil. The soil consisted of iron sulfate which does not provide very good traction.

Problems with the flash memory were evident a few months later in October. Then in late November and into December problems with the wheels on Spirit began to crop up.

In January 2010 Spirit stopped roving and became a stationary science platform. In addition to the previously mentioned problems during 2009, communications problems were also occurring. The last contact with Spirit was on 22 March 2010, although later unsuccessful attempts were made until May 2011.

Spirit’s mission was ended on 25 May 2011.

The matching rover, Opportunity landed on Mars on 25 January 2004 (UTC) and is still conducting science and yes roving.

Just incredible.  See a complete time-line from NASA.

As an aside:  I meant to publish this back on 05 Jan, but for some reason it never made it on the queue.  Oh it was my fault all right.  Good thing these rovers were a set.  

Look at Curiosity

A close-up of the Curiosity rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Here’s a update to the image of Curiosity’s tracks, it’s the Curiosity rover itself, just a great photo by HiRISE imager aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

For scale the tracks are about 3 meters (10 ft) apart.

This image is part of a larger image which you can see and read the full caption at NASA. I am using one of the available sizes for a desktop too it’s excellent.