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Curiosity update, sols 814-863: Pahrump Hills Walkabout, part 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/01/21 07:24 CST | 5 comments

Curiosity has spent the last two months completing a second circuit of the Pahrump Hills field site, gathering APXS and MAHLI data. The work has been hampered by the loss of the ChemCam focusing laser, but the team is developing a workaround. Over the holidays, the rover downlinked many Gigabits of image data. The rover is now preparing for a drilling campaign.

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Curiosity results from AGU: Methane is there, and it's variable

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/30 04:21 CST | 6 comments

At the American Geophysical Union meeting, the Curiosity mission announced that an instrument had finally definitively detected methane in Mars' atmosphere. It exists at a low background level, but there was a spike to about ten times that, which lasted for a couple of months before disappearing. What that means is unclear.

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HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 2.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/30 02:35 CST | 1 comments

There have been tons and tons of HiRISE images of the Curiosity landing region, and it has taken quite a lot of work for me to find, locate, and catalogue them. This post is a summary of what I've found; after four revisions and updates, it's now version 2.0 of the list.

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Like A Bad Penny: Methane on Mars

Posted by Nicholas Heavens on 2014/12/16 04:07 CST | 5 comments

With the announcement of Curiosity's detection of methane on Mars, Nicholas Heavens gives us a guide to the history of methane detection on Mars, a discussion of its scientific significance, and a few things to consider when hearing about and asking about the detection.

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What Happens When Space Projects Go Over Budget? The Curious Case of MSL’s Overrun

Posted by Jason Callahan on 2014/12/08 04:44 CST | 1 comments

Jason Callahan takes a detailed look at the effects of Curiosity's cost overruns on NASA's budget.

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Join me in Washington, D.C. for a post-Thanksgiving Celebration of Planetary Exploration

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/11/26 11:54 CST

See Bill Nye, Europa scientist Kevin Hand, and Mars scientist Michael Meyer speak at a special event on Capitol Hill on December 2nd.

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Curiosity update, sols 782-813: Walking the outcrop at Pahrump Hills

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/19 07:50 CST

At Pahrump Hills, Curiosity is becoming the field geologist she was intended to be.

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Seven Mars spacecraft attempted observations of comet Siding Spring. How did they go?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/11/03 04:03 CST | 6 comments

It's been two weeks since comet Siding Spring passed close by Mars, and six of the seven Mars spacecraft have now checked in with quick looks at their images of the encounter. I round up all the results.

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A (Difficult) Day in the Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/10/30 10:05 CDT | 13 comments

After a bad day on the launch pad, some perspective.

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GSA 2014: The puzzle of Gale crater's basaltic sedimentary rocks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/23 07:31 CDT | 15 comments

At the Geological Society of America conference this week, Curiosity scientists dug into the geology of Gale crater and shared puzzling results about the nature of the rocks that the rover has found there.

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Status update: All Mars missions fine after Siding Spring flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/20 12:07 CDT | 2 comments

All seven Mars spacecraft are doing perfectly fine after comet Siding Spring's close encounter with Mars.

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Curiosity update, sols 764-781: Work complete at Confidence Hills; puzzling arm issues

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/17 12:53 CDT | 7 comments

Curiosity spent a total of four weeks at Confidence Hills, feeding samples to SAM and CheMin several times. On two weekends during this period, the rover's activities were interrupted by faults with the robotic arm. Curiosity drove away from Confidence Hills on sol 780, and is ready to observe comet Siding Spring over the weekend.

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Curiosity update, sols 748-763: Driving and Drilling at Pahrump Hills

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/29 05:57 CDT | 10 comments

The biggest news on Curiosity of late is that the rover has drilled her fourth full drill hole on Mars! Drilling happened at a site called "Confidence Hills" on sol 759. But before she did that, she took a long series of amazing photos of rock formations at Jubilee Pass, Panamint Butte, and Upheaval Dome.

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Curiosity update, sols 727-747: Beginning the "Mission to Mount Sharp"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/12 07:08 CDT | 3 comments

A lot has happened behind the scenes on the Curiosity mission in the last few weeks. The mission received a pretty negative review from a panel convened to assess the relative quality of seven different proposed extended planetary science missions. Then, just a week later, the mission announced big news: they have arrived at Mount Sharp.

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Curiosity Rover Science Plan Slammed by NASA Review Panel
Planetary science senior review still supports continued funding

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/09/03 01:55 CDT | 19 comments

Senior review recommends continuing all major planetary exploration missions, but not without some changes.

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Cool animations of Phobos transits from Curiosity

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/25 04:41 CDT | 4 comments

Shooting video of a lumpy moon crossing the Sun and turning it into a giant googly eye is not a new activity for Curiosity, but I get a fresh thrill each time I see one of these sequences downlinked from the rover.

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Curiosity update, sols 697-726: Mars thwarts driving and drilling

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/22 04:24 CDT | 2 comments

The Mars gremlins really had it in for Curiosity this month. A computer glitch and slippery sand conspired to delay the rover's progress toward Mount Sharp. And shifting rocks proved unsafe for drilling. The rover will continue driving toward Mount Sharp, departing Bonanza King without drilling, skirting Hidden Valley along a plateau to its north.

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Comet Flyby Missions for Mars Rovers

Posted by Mark Lemmon on 2014/08/21 10:19 CDT | 2 comments

On October 19, the Mars rovers — like their orbiting cousins — will become comet flyby missions. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 140,000 km of Mars.

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Curiosity wheel damage: The problem and solutions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/19 08:21 CDT | 27 comments

Now that a Tiger Team has assessed the nature and causes of damage to Curiosity's wheels, I can finally answer your frequently-asked questions about what wheel damage means for the mission, and why it wasn't anticipated.

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Join me on "Virtually Speaking Science" August 6

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/08/05 06:27 CDT

On Wednesday's "Virtually Speaking Science" podcast, The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla and Space.com contributor Rod Pyle look back at the first two years of the Curiosity Rover’s mission on Mars, and look ahead to the future of Mars exploration. NBC News science editor Alan Boyle is the host for the show, which airs at 5pm Pacific / midnight UTC.

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