4
Sep 11

Rare martian lake delta spotted by Mars Express

Source: ESA


A rare martian delta in Eberswalde crater.
Image credits ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).

ESA’s Mars Express has spotted a rare case of a crater once filled by a lake, revealed by the presence of a delta. The delta found at Eberswalde crate is an ancient fan-shaped deposit of dark sediments, laid down in water. It is a reminder of Mars’ past, wetter climate. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
1
Sep 11

NASA's Mars Rover Opportunity Begins Study of Martian Crater

Source: NASA Rovers


Opportunity at Work Examining 'Tisdale 2,'.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The initial work of NASA's Mars rover Opportunity at its new location on Mars shows surface compositional differences from anything the robot has studied in its first 7.5 years of exploration.

Opportunity arrived three weeks ago at the rim of a 14-mile-wide (22-kilometer-wide) crater named Endeavour. The first rock it examined is flat-topped and about the size of a footstool. It was apparently excavated by an impact that dug a crater the size of a tennis court into the crater's rim. The rock was informally named "Tisdale 2."(read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
10
Aug 11

Mars Rover Opportunity arrives at Endeavour Crater

Source: NASA-Mars Exploration Rovers


Portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU.

After a journey of almost three years, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has reached the Red Planet's Endeavour crater to study rocks never seen before.

On Aug. 9, the golf cart-sized rover relayed its arrival at a location named Spirit Point on the crater's rim. Opportunity drove approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) since climbing out of the Victoria crater.

"NASA is continuing to write remarkable chapters in our nation's story of exploration with discoveries on Mars and trips to an array of challenging new destinations," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Opportunity's findings and data from the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory will play a key role in making possible future human missions to Mars and other places where humans have not yet been."

Endeavour crater, which is more than 25 times wider than Victoria crater, is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter. At Endeavour, scientists expect to see much older rocks and terrains than those examined by Opportunity during its first seven years on Mars. Endeavour became a tantalizing destination after NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected clay minerals that may have formed in an early warmer and wetter period.

"We're soon going to get the opportunity to sample a rock type the rovers haven't seen yet," said Matthew Golombek, Mars Exploration Rover science team member, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "Clay minerals form in wet conditions so we may learn about a potentially habitable environment that appears to have been very different from those responsible for the rocks comprising the plains."

The name Spirit Point informally commemorates Opportunity's twin rover, which stopped communicating in March 2010. Spirit's mission officially concluded in May.

"Our arrival at this destination is a reminder that these rovers have continued far beyond the original three-month mission," said John Callas, Mars Exploration Rover project manager at JPL.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which launched Aug. 12, 2005, is searching for evidence that water persisted on the Martian surface for a long period of time. Other Mars missions have shown water flowed across the surface in the planet's history, but scientists have not determined if water remained long enough to provide a habitat for life.

NASA launched the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity in the summer of 2003. Both completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004 and continued years of extended operations. They made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. (read source)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
6
Aug 11

Mars’ northern polar regions in transition

Source: ESA


Northern polar region of Mars at the northern hemisphere summer solstice.
Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

A newly released image from ESA’s Mars Express shows the north pole of Mars during the red planet’s summer solstice. All the carbon dioxide ice has gone, leaving just a bright cap of water ice.

This image was captured by the orbiter’s High-Resolution Stereo Camera on 17 May 2010 and shows part of the northern polar region of Mars during the summer solstice. The solstice is the longest day and the beginning of the summer for the planet’s northern hemisphere.(read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
5
Aug 11

NASA's spacecraft data suggests water flowing on Mars

Source: NASA


Flows that appear inside Mars' Newton crater.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.

Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during  the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere.(read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
23
Jul 11

NASA'S next Mars Rover will land at Gale Crater

Source: NASA Mars Science Laboratory


Image credit: NASA

NASA's next Mars rover will land at the foot of a layered mountain inside the planet's Gale crater.

The car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012. The target crater spans 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Gale is about the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Layering in the mound suggests it is the surviving remnant of an extensive sequence of deposits. The crater is named for Australian astronomer Walter F. Gale. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
9
Jul 11

Landing Site for Next Mars Rover Narrowed to two

Source: NASA Mars Science Lab


Eberswalde crater
(left) and Gale crater (right).
Image credit: NASA.

NASA's next Mars rover will land either beside the site of a former river delta or beside a mountain of stacked layers. These enticing locations are the two finalists as the Mars Science Laboratory landing sites: Eberswalde crater and Gale crater.

Selection of one of those sites is anticipated this month. The mission's spacecraft, including the rover named Curiosity, is in preparation for launch in the period Nov. 25 to Dec. 18, 2011. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
2
Jul 11

Mars' rust suggests water in the past

Source: NASA Press Release 11-214


Phoenix Mars Lander. Image credit: NASA.

NASA scientists are seeing new evidence that suggests traces of water on Mars are under a thin varnish of iron oxide, or rust, similar to conditions found on desert rocks in California's Mojave Desert.

Mars could be spotted with many more patches of carbonates than originally suspected. Carbonates are minerals that form readily in large bodies of water and can point to a planet's wet history. Although only a few small outcrops of carbonates have been detected on Mars, scientists believe many more examples are blocked from view by the rust. The findings appear in the Friday July 1, online edition of the International Journal of Astrobiology. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
24
Jun 11

NASA Mars Rover arrives in Florida after cross-country flight

Source: NASA.
Image credit: NASA.

NASA's next Mars rover has completed the journey from its California birthplace to Florida in preparation for launch this fall.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, also known as Curiosity, arrived Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space  Center aboard an Air Force C-17 transport plane. It was accompanied by the rocket-powered descent stage that will fly the rover during the final moments before landing on Mars. The C-17 flight began at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., where the boxed hardware had been trucked from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in  Pasadena, Calif.

The rover's aeroshell -- the protective covering for the trip to the Red Planet - and the cruise stage, which will guide it  to Mars, arrived at Kennedy last month. The mission is targeted to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station  between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18. The car-size rover will land on Mars in August 2012. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
8
Jun 11

Springtime at Mars’ south pole

Source: ESA


South polar region of Mars. image credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).

ESA’s Mars Express celebrates eight years in space with a new view of ice in the southern polar region of Mars. The poles are closely linked to the planet’s climate and constantly change with the seasons. Their study is an important scientific objective of the mission. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
4
Jun 11

Opportunity passes "Skylab" crater

Source: NASA/JPL-PIA14132


The "Skylab" crater on Mars: Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech.

A drive of 482 feet (146.8 meters) on June 1, 2011, took NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity past 30 kilometers in total odometry during 88 months of driving on Mars. That's 50 times the distance originally planned for the mission.
Opportunity used its navigation camera to take the exposures combined into this view of a wee crater, informally named "Skylab". (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
3
Jun 11

One year in isolation

Source: ESA


Crew training for 'Marswalk' at the simulated martian terrain of the Mars500 experiment.
Credits: ESA / IPMB

The six men in the Mars500 facility near Moscow have been in isolation now 365 days. The European crew members have been writing in their latest letters home about the highlights, monotonous life, team spirit and determination to go on.(read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
26
May 11

NASA concludes attempts to contact Mars Rover Spirit

Source: NASA-Mars Exporation Rovers


Artist's concept of a NASA Mars Exploration Rover.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell University

NASA is ending attempts to regain contact with the long-lived Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, which last communicated on March 22, 2010.

A transmission that ended on Wednesday, May 25, was the last in a series of attempts. Extensive communications  activities during the past 10 months also have explored the possibility that Spirit might reawaken as the solar energy available increased after a stressful Martian winter without much sunlight. With inadequate energy to run its survival heaters, the rover likely experienced colder internal temperatures last year than in any of its prior six years on Mars. Many critical components and connections would have been susceptible to damage from the cold. (read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon
7
May 11

Mars Express sees deep fractures on Mars

Source: ESA


Nili Fossae, a graben system on Mars.
Image Credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).

Newly released images from ESA’s Mars Express show Nili Fossae, a system of deep fractures around the giant Isidis impact basin. Some of these incisions into the martian crust are up to 500 m deep and probably formed at the same time as the basin.(read more)

Twitter del.icio.us Digg Facebook linked-in Yahoo Buzz StumbleUpon