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Blog Archive


Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Scales Knudsen Ridge and Rocks On
Sols 4274 - 4302

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/03/03 08:21 CST | 1 comments

As the Martian winter slowly begins to recede, Opportunity is working away on the steep slopes of Knudsen Ridge at the southern end of Marathon Valley, showing her mettle in some of the most challenging terrain of the rover’s 12+ years on the Red Planet.

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MENCA brings divine wealth from Mars: First science results from the Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted by Syed Maqbool Ahmed on 2016/03/02 08:00 CST | 4 comments

MENCA (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser) is a quadrupole mass spectrometer onboard India's Mars Orbiter Mission, MOM. A report on measurements of neutral species accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters is the first peer-reviewed scientific result from the mission.

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Atlanta Students Bring Mars to Earth

Posted by Mark Sequeira on 2016/02/26 09:22 CST | 1 comments

A group of students from Georgia, USA, were able to explore Mars through the Mars Express #VMCschools campaign, with a little help from The Planetary Society's image processing tutorials.

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Light plays on a Martian crater rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/16 01:30 CST

Recently, space image processing enthusiast Thomas Appéré noticed that Curiosity had taken five photos of exactly the same spot on the rim of Gale crater, identical but for being taken at different times of day. That spot was due north of the rover, so the rising and lowering Sun illuminates the rounded hummocks of the crater rim differently from early morning to early afternoon.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 4284 - February 11, 2016

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2016/02/11 07:19 CST

Opportunity is continuing to explore the outcrops Marathon Valley, on the west rim of Endeavour crater.

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Curiosity update, sols 1218-1249: Digging in the sand at Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/10 12:21 CST | 4 comments

Curiosity has spent the last month sampling and processing dark sand scooped from the side of Namib Dune. The rover has now departed Namib and is preparing to cross the Bagnold dune field, while working to diagnose an anomaly with the CHIMRA sample handling mechanism.

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HiRISE image coverage of the Curiosity field site on Mars, Version 3.0

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/02/05 12:53 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 five revisions and updates, it's now version 3.0 of the list.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Turns 12! Embarks on Electric Slide
Sols 4244–4274

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/02/04 07:12 CST | 1 comments

On January 24th, the veteran Mars Exploration Rover (MER) wrapped the last day of her 12th year of surface operations on Mars, marking an extraordinary, historic achievement for the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission.

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Field Report From Mars: Sol 4270 - January 28, 2016

Posted by Larry Crumpler on 2016/01/29 01:53 CST

On January 23rd, Opportunity celebrated its 12th anniversary of landing on Mars.

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Wide views of Mars from Mars Express

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/27 10:59 CST | 4 comments

Geologist and amateur space image processor Justin Cowart has dug into the Mars Express archives and located some lovely, wide views across great swaths of the Martian globe.

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NASA Could Choose Mars Human Landing Site during next Presidential Administration

Posted by Jason Davis on 2016/01/22 05:03 CST

The place NASA intends to the land the first humans on Mars could be selected during the next presidential administration, according to the agency’s planetary science division director, Jim Green.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Finishes Another Record Year, Approaches 12th Anniversary
Sols 4214–4244

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2016/01/08 11:04 CST | 2 comments

Perched on the southern wall of Marathon Valley at Endeavour Crater, Opportunity braved temperatures descending well below -100° F in December to work the winter science campaign and home in on the remnants of ancient clays.

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Curiosity update, sols 1166-1217: First reconnaissance of Bagnold dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/01/07 08:09 CST | 4 comments

In the six weeks since my last detailed Curiosity update, the rover has driven to, on, and around a couple of active barchan sand dunes on Mars. They are now searching for a site to scoop and sample sand on the western edge of Namib dune.

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#MarsWalk: 100 km

Posted by Merc Boyan on 2016/01/06 07:03 CST | 5 comments

Merc Boyan gives us an update on his goal of walking the distance from Viking 2 to Curiosity: 2880 kilometers.

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For the first time ever, a Curiosity Mastcam self-portrait from Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/22 06:17 CST | 1 comments

In a remarkable and wholly unexpected gift to Curiosity fans, the rover has just taken the first-ever color Mastcam self-portrait from Mars.

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NASA's Next Mars Mission Delayed for Two Years
One of its main scientific instruments could not maintain a vacuum

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/12/22 04:46 CST | 1 comments

A problem with the French space agency's seismometer instrument will delay NASA's InSight Mars lander by two years.

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Curiosity stories from AGU: The fortuitous find of a puzzling mineral on Mars, and a gap in Gale's history

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/12/18 05:51 CST | 1 comments

Yesterday at the American Geophysical Union meeting, the Curiosity science team announced the discovery of a mineral never before found on Mars. The finding was the result of a fortuitous series of events, but as long as Curiosity's instruments continue to function well, it's the kind of discovery that Curiosity should now be able to repeat.

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Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Reality Bites but Opportunity Climbs to "Treasure Trove"
Sols 4183–4213

Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2015/12/03 06:51 CST

Opportunity faced the challenges of winter as well as technological issues in November, but pressed on, hiking up hill and into a geological treasure trove that may well present the scientists with the evidence they need to solve the clay mineral mystery of Marathon Valley.

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Curiosity update, sols 1109-1165: Drilling at Big Sky and Greenhorn, onward to Bagnold Dunes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/11/16 01:31 CST | 4 comments

Since my last update, Curiosity drilled two new holes, at Big Sky and Greenhorn, and is now approaching Bagnold Dunes.

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Detecting Dust Devils with Insight

Posted by Ralph Lorenz on 2015/11/11 11:29 CST

Planetary scientist and dust devil expert Ralph Lorenz describes how the upcoming Mars InSight lander's sensitive seismometer might be able to detect dust devils.

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