Category Archives: Mars Rovers

Curiosity’s Selfie

Curiosity's Selfie at the Mojave drill site on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Curiosity’s Selfie at the Mojave drill site on Mars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The other day I was checking out images of Curiosity and thought the rover was pretty clean. Turns out only be parts of the rover are clean. This selfie shows quite a bit of dust build up.

It’s a great picture. You really should have a look at the full image at the Mars Science Laboratory website. Not only will you get a very large image with great detail on the rover, there is also the wonderful terrain.

Curious about how a rover can take a selfie?

The scene combines dozens of images taken during January 2015 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the rover’s robotic arm. The pale “Pahrump Hills” outcrop surrounds the rover, and the upper portion of Mount Sharp is visible on the horizon. Darker ground at upper right and lower left holds ripples of wind-blown sand and dust.

The annotated version above labels several of the sites Curiosity has investigated during three passes up the Pahrump Hills outcrop examining the outcrop at increasing levels of detail. The rover used its sample-collecting drill at “Confidence Hills” as well as at Mojave, and in late February was assessing “Telegraph Peak” as a third drilling site.

The view does not include the rover’s robotic arm. Wrist motions and turret rotations on the arm allowed MAHLI to acquire the mosaic’s component images. The arm was positioned out of the shot in the images, or portions of images, that were used in this mosaic.

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Rover’s Marathon

The remaining distance to complete a Martian marathon by the Opportunity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
The remaining distance to complete a Martian marathon by the Opportunity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity continues to set records. Picture it, the little rover begins its mission on Mars and at the start the idea of surviving the first Martian winter was hard to believe. Now 11 years later Opportunity has traveled almost a regulation marathon’s distance.

Incredible.

From NASA:

In February 2015, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is approaching a cumulative driving distance on Mars equal to the length of a marathon race. This map shows the rover’s position relative to where it could surpass that distance.

The map shows the rover’s location as of Feb. 10, 2015, in the context of where it has been since late December 2014 and the “Marathon Valley” science destination ahead. Opportunity is within about 220 yards (200 meters) of completing a marathon. The green band indicates where it could reach the official Olympic marathon-race distance of 26.219 miles (42.195 kilometers). The rover’s route might zigzag as the rover team chooses a path toward Marathon Valley, so there is uncertainty about where exactly it will pass marathon distance.

Read the rest at the MER website.

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Martian Landscape

The view from Curiosity of the Martian surface on Sol 896.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
The view from Curiosity of the Martian surface on Sol 896. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity took this image of the Martian landscape a couple of days agon on 12 February 2015.

Currently Curiosity is examining sites inside Gale Crater, recently drilling into a rock at a place called Mojave 2. The drilling technique is changing to suit the fragile rock, using a less heavy handed approach to drilling is paying off.

Click here to read the preliminary results of the sampling.

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Martian Lakebed?

Sedimentary signs of a Martian Lake bed viewed by the Mars Science Rover, Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Sedimentary signs of a Martian Lake bed viewed by the Mars Science Rover, Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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.

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Dusty Rover

Dust buildup on Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Dust buildup on Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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.

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A Rover View of Comet

NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU
NASA Rover Opportunity view of the Mars comet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./ASU/TAMU

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.

Want an non-annotated version?

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.

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Widowiak Ridge

The rover Opportunity looks north. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.
The rover Opportunity looks north. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

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.

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