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.

 

Curious Tracks on Mars

Rover tracks as seen by the HiRise camera on the MRO. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Rover tracks as seen by the HiRise camera on the MRO. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

From the MSL website:

Two parallel tracks left by the wheels of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover cross rugged ground in this portion of a Dec. 11, 2013, observation by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The rover itself does not appear in this part of the HiRISE observation.

Continue reading

Curiosity Wheel Update

You may remember we had a post about the condition of the wheels on Curiosity back on November 28 (see Curiosity-Update).

A wheel from Curiosity showing wear and tear.  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A wheel from Curiosity showing wear and tear. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The condition of the wheels also caught the attention of Curiosity’s team back here on Earth (from NASA):

Left-Front Wheel of Curiosity Rover, Approaching Three Miles

The left-front wheel of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows dents and holes in this image taken during the 469th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (Nov. 30, 2013). The image was taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera, which is mounted at the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm. By that sol, Curiosity had driven 2.78 miles (4.47 kilometers). An uptick in the pace of wear and tear on the rover’s wheels in the preceding few weeks appears to be correlated with driving over rougher terrain than during earlier months of the mission. Routes to future destinations for the mission may be charted to lessen the amount of travel over such rough terrain.

BTW, we are having something of an ice storm here. Power is still on for the moment, the wires are getting bigger all the while though and a slug of rain is about to hit again and that will add to the fun. I have no place to go thankfully.

Curiosity Update

A NAV_LEFT_B image from Curiostiy on Sol 465.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A NAV_LEFT_B image from Curiostiy on Sol 465. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Curiosity rover has resumed operations on the Martian surface. The the voltage drop of 17 Nov. that halted Curiosity’s operations was diagnosed (see Curious Troubles).

The “likely” cause of the voltage drop was determined to be an internal short in Curiosity’s Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator. The design is robust and the short apparently does not affect operation of the power source or the rover. These systems are on other spacecraft, Cassini for example and the shorts don’t seem to result in a loss of capability. Putting those two things together mission managers decided to resume operations.

Interestingly after the decision to resume science activities was made engineers learned the voltage level drop had reversed and is back at the pre-drop level of 17 Nov.

The image is from the left Navcam on Curiosity of Sol 465 (26 November 2013). Makes me wonder about how much mileage they are going to get out of the wheels, that one looks more  beat up than I would have thought.  Perhaps the wear could simply be from the way Curiosity landed, I’m not sure.

Curious Troubles

One of the latest images of 17 November from Curiosity. Taken with the left NavCam.  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

One of the latest images of 17 November from Curiosity. Taken with the left NavCam. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The MSL rover Curiosity has suspended scientific operations for a few days to take a look at an electrical issue detected on 17 Nov.

A voltage drop of about 7 volts (~ 11 to ~ 4 volts) was detected on Curiosity’s 450th Martian day. The The possibility of a “soft short” is being investigated. A “soft short” partially conducts electricity differing from a “hard” short that occurs when two wires touch that shouldn’t.

Jim Erickison of JPL says: The vehicle is safe and stable, fully capable of operating in its present condition, but we are taking the precaution of investigating what may be a soft short.” so far, analysis has shown a voltage change had occurred intermittently three times prior to the current event.

The press release reminded me about the “soft short” on landing day involving the explosive-release deployment devices. That reduced the bus voltage to the 11 volts mentioned here from an original 16 volts.

It sounds like in total, the voltage has dropped from 16 volts to 4 volts. While Curiosity can operate, hopefully the mission managers can get this sorted out before another 50 to 75 percent voltage drop happens. I have to think the mission team will get to the bottom of things if at all possible, even from around 261,518,000 km / 162500000 miles.

Getting to the bottom of the problem is one thing, mitigating it is quite another — good luck!