Posted by Jim Bell on 2008/06/13 01:49 CDT
One of the ways that planetary scientists try to understand the origin and evolution of landforms on other planets is by studying similar kinds of landforms or "analogs" here on the Earth. For the past few days I've been working with a group of colleagues doing just that--specifically, studying dunes in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in order to try to better understand the nature of sand dunes on Mars.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2008/05/31 12:00 CDT
As Phoenix commanded the headlines with its flawless touchdown in the arctic region of the Red Planet this past month, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) forged onward slowly, quietly and out of the spotlight, heading into the depths of their third Martian winter. Spirit persevered and held its own in terms of energy, while Opportunity, after six weeks of being stopped in its tracks with a shoulder joint injury, roved once more.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/12 06:02 CDT
A majority of the people who work in planetary geology are usually associated with one or maybe two missions, doing all their research on the results from one instrument on one mission. But there are a few people whose expertise cuts across many space missions, and an even smaller number of people who seem to work on almost everything. Randy Kirk is one of those people.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/12 04:01 CDT
It's time to check in on what's going on with our trusty robots around the solar system.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/05/05 02:46 CDT
Here's what's happening on active planetary missions this week.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2008/04/30 12:00 CDT
With winter settling in on the southern hemisphere of the Red Planet, the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) spent April working on their respective science campaigns and hunkering down in brutally chilly nights that are seeing temperatures drop to around -95 degree Celsius. As the month comes to an end at Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum, there is good news and there is bad news.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/04/28 09:56 CDT
I thought it would be fun to start the week by taking stock of what's going on with all the active planetary missions out there.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2008/03/31 12:00 CDT
Brandishing the trademark resilience that has endeared them to millions of people around the world, the Mars Exploration Rovers kept their robotic noses to the grindstone through March, soldiering on into their third Martian winter with slightly more power than predictions anticipated and enough proven mettle to dodge a budgetary pothole on Earth that might have taken one of them out of action. Now, 50 months after Spirit defied the odds and bounced safely to an upright landing and Opportunity followed with the impossible scoring of a 300-million-mile hole-in-one, the twin robot field geologists are driving the MER mission into new territory once again.
Posted by Ted Stryk on 2008/03/14 03:49 CDT
I spent a large portion of the day at the Lunar and Planetary Institute's library and presented my own poster during the poster sessions, so my coverage of Thursday's sessions is limited.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2008/02/29 11:00 CST
Posted by Ryan Anderson on 2008/02/24 06:20 CST
The mantra of Mars exploration is "follow the water," and my research is no exception. Lately, I have been looking closely at the the Meridiani region, searching for evidence of water-formed minerals near some of the potential landing sites for the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2008/02/12 04:11 CST
Opportunity is now following a rather leisurely autumn schedule, according to the latest update on the mission website. Some of the work Opportunity is doing involves staring skyward, looking for patterns in the clouds that pass overhead at this time of year. One of the guys at unmannedspaceflight.com has put together some nifty animations of the wispy cloud patterns.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2008/01/31 11:00 CST
The Mars Exploration Rovers celebrated their fourth birthdays and began their fifth year of exploring this month -- and for the first time since the big dust storm hit the headlines last summer, Spirit and Opportunity made the news. It wasn't for the notable exploration or engineering milestone they had just achieved or the discoveries they've helped scientists make about a once very different Mars. It was because of an alleged "Bigfoot" sighting.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/12/31 11:00 CST
The mission was only supposed to last three months, maybe six months if all went well, but the Mars Exploration Rovers surprised everyone. Demonstrating an uncanny kind of "robot right stuff," they roved far beyond what anyone dreamed and now, in a matter of days, Spirit and Opportunity will celebrate their 4th birthdays and rove into their fifth year of exploring the Red Planet.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/11/30 11:00 CST
Nail-biting drama and the inevitable signs of aging marked the month of November for the Mars Exploration Rovers, with Spirit accidentally encountering Tartarus, a dust-filled crater, on its way to its winter haven and having to thrash for its life, and Opportunity spending a lot of its time conducting tests on its RAT (rock abrasion tool), which lost another encoder.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/10/31 12:00 CDT
The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) logged another major milestone in October as they completed a second Martian year of field geology and now may rove on through 2009.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2007/10/18 04:07 CDT
The Mars Exploration Rovers have left wheel tracks all over their landing sites, but for some reason this pair of wheel tracks, left in the sand ripple on the rim of Victoria crater and now viewed from below, tickled my fancy. Thanks to James Canvin for the lovely panorama.
Posted by A.J.S. Rayl on 2007/09/30 12:00 CDT
It might not be the stuff of Broadway musicals, but the Sun and did "come out tomorrow" on Mars. Just eight weeks after dust from severe storms darkened the Martian skies and threatened their solar-powered lives, the Mars Exploration Rovers finished dusting off as much as possible and took off on their long-anticipated expeditions this month, with Spirit roving onto an old volcanic formation called Home Plate and Opportunity cruising into Victoria Crater.