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How Does NASA's Ban on Russian Contact Affect Curiosity?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/04/04 12:11 CDT | 4 comments

Earlier this week, NASA announced that it was cutting off ties with Russia, except for activities relating to the ISS. This raised questions about Russian participation on NASA's science missions, particularly the Russian experiment on the Curiosity rover.

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Great new image of Curiosity from HiRISE, just across Dingo Gap

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/04/03 06:26 CDT

A Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE image taken on February 10 shows Curiosity having just made deep, dark tracks across the Dingo Gap dune.

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Curiosity update, sols 570-583: Arrival at Kimberley and preparation for an arm workout

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/28 03:00 CDT | 3 comments

Some arm faults caused delays on Curiosity's approach to Kimberley, but the rover is now parked at its north edge, examining the "striated unit" up close with arm-mounted instruments.

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Snapshots of Science from the 2014 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/25 02:45 CDT | 2 comments

Vignettes from dozens of LPSC talks: GRAIL and LADEE at the Moon; ice and craters and conglomerates and organics and gullies on Mars; polar deposits and volatile elements on Mercury; tectonics on Enceladus; and more, until my brain was so full I could barely speak.

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Curiosity update, sols 563-569: Kimberley ahoy!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/16 05:12 CDT | 1 comments

With a series of drives over the last week, Curiosity is now approaching her next science stop at Kimberley. The distinctive knobs of the Kimberley outcrop are visible in photos taken on sol 569.

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Intro Astronomy Class 6: Mars (continued) and Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/14 06:10 CDT

Continue exploring Mars and learn about asteroids in this video of class 6 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Intro Astronomy Class 5: Venus (continued) and Mars

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/06 10:49 CST

Continue exploring Venus and begin looking at Mars in this video of class 5 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Curiosity update, sols 549-562: Shooting past Kylie on the road to Kimberley

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/06 07:35 CST | 7 comments

In a series of drives, Curiosity flew past the "striated terrain" that outcropped at Kylie, and is now negotiating her way around some rockier territory as she makes her way south toward the enticing outcrops of Kimberley.

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A new map of Mars from some pretty old data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/04 11:46 CST | 3 comments

The United States Geological Survey recently issued an improved version of the Viking color map of Mars. This 40-year-old data set still provides the prettiest global-scale map of the planet.

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Sand Waves in the Desert
or “Pet Peeves and Deciphering Climate Change in the Solar System”

Posted by Lori Fenton on 2014/02/21 03:19 CST | 1 comments

I have a pet peeve: the words dune and ripple are often used interchangeably, although they are quite distinct from one another. So what’s the difference between aeolian dunes and ripples? And why should anybody care?

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Curiosity update, sols 540-8: New rules and longer drives

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/20 05:53 CST | 3 comments

Curiosity has tested a new driving mode -- backwards -- and achieved their longest single-day drive in three months. And they've committed to driving to the spot formerly known as "KMS-9," marking that commitment by giving it a name, "Kimberley." My route maps show you why Curiosity's views will be shifting, and Ken Herkenhoff's blog posts explain the daily activities.

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Curiosity Update, sols 534-540: Over Dingo Gap, onto softer sand

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/13 12:55 CST | 5 comments

After more than two months of very slow driving due to concern about the wheels and time spent choosing whether to enter "Dingo Gap" or not, Curiosity has safely crossed the dune and resumed longer drives, achieving 75 meters and crossing the 5-kilometer mark on sol 540.

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Looking Backward: Curiosity gazes upon the setting Earth

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/02/05 11:58 CST | 10 comments

A few days ago, Curiosity looked westward after sunset and photographed Earth setting toward the mountainous rim of Gale crater.

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Curiosity update, sols 521-533: Assessing Dingo Gap

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2014/02/04 05:08 CST | 3 comments

While continuing to perform regular wheel health assessments, Curiosity took a sharp right turn and headed for Dingo Gap. On sol 533, they performed a "toe dip" that parked the rover atop the dune with a good view down into the valley.

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Beautiful view into the valley beyond Dingo Gap, Curiosity sol 528

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/31 02:41 CST | 6 comments

A beautiful Mastcam panorama from sol 528 shows a landscape so much more like Earth than anything we've explored on the Martian surface before.

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Curiosity update: imaging the nonfunctioning REMS boom, closer to Dingo Gap

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/29 04:22 CST | 2 comments

At long last, on sol 526, Curiosity imaged the part of the weather instrument that was damaged during landing, but no obvious damage is visible, to me anyway. On sol 527 they drove even closer to Dingo Gap, with plans to drive onto the dune in the sol 528 drive.

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Curiosity images "Dingo Gap," sols 519-521

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/01/24 05:45 CST | 1 comments

Over the last few days, Curiosity made steady driving progress to the southwest. For several of those days, an intriguing feature has appeared on the horizon in her images. UPDATE: The Curiosity team has now decided to drive the rover toward the feature, which is now named "Dingo Gap."

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Curiosity update, sols 488-520: Steady driving while watching the wheels

Posted by Ken Herkenhoff on 2014/01/22 03:38 CST | 1 comments

In the last month, Curiosity put 222 meters on the odometer in 12 short drives, while regularly assessing the wheels for damage. The rover performed touch-and-go analyses of rocks including Oneida and Kodak, and also took some ChemCam RMI mosaics of rocks near the base of Mount Sharp.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa 2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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Habitability, Taphonomy, and Curiosity's Hunt for Organic Carbon

Posted by John Grotzinger on 2013/12/21 08:47 CST | 4 comments

Lots of people ask questions about how the Curiosity mission, and future missions, will forge ahead to begin with looking for evidence of past life on Mars. There is nothing simple or straightforward about looking for life.

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