Updates Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity)

statickid

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haha i was wondering what happened to that story. silly media folks, hearing what they want so they have a chance at being the first to report on a big news item
 

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NASA JPL:
Update Set in San Francisco About Curiosity Mars Rover

November 29, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- The next news conference about the NASA Mars rover Curiosity will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 3, in San Francisco at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect. The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover's full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil. One class of substances Curiosity is checking for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.

The Mars Science Laboratory Project and its Curiosity rover are less than four months into a two-year prime mission to investigate whether conditions in Mars' Gale Crater may have been favorable for microbial life. Curiosity is exceeding all expectations for a new mission with all of the instruments and measurement systems performing well. This is spectacular for such a complex system, and one that is operated so far away on Mars by people here on planet Earth. The mission already has found an ancient riverbed on the Red Planet, and there is every expectation for remarkable discoveries still to come.

Audio and visuals from the briefing also will be streamed online at: http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl.

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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA Mars Rover Fully Analyzes First Soil Samples

December 03, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.

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Scoop Marks in the Sand at 'Rocknest'
This is a view of the third (left) and fourth (right) trenches made by the 1.6-inch-wide (4-centimeter-wide) scoop on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity in October 2012.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS​
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Curiosity Rover's Traverse, August through November 2012
This map shows where NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has driven since landing at a site subsequently named "Bradbury Landing," and traveling to an overlook position near beside "Point Lake," in drives totaling 1,703 feet (519 meters).
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona​
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Detection of the substances during this early phase of the mission demonstrates the laboratory's capability to analyze diverse soil and rock samples over the next two years. Scientists also have been verifying the capabilities of the rover's instruments.

Curiosity is the first Mars rover able to scoop soil into analytical instruments. The specific soil sample came from a drift of windblown dust and sand called "Rocknest." The site lies in a relatively flat part of Gale Crater still miles away from the rover's main destination on the slope of a mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover's laboratory includes the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. SAM used three methods to analyze gases given off from the dusty sand when it was heated in a tiny oven. One class of substances SAM checks for is organic compounds -- carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life.

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Curiosity's 'Rocknest' Workplace
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover documented itself in the context of its work site, an area called "Rocknest Wind Drift," on the 84th Martian day, or sol, of its mission (Oct. 31, 2012). The rover worked at this location from Sol 56 (Oct. 2, 2012) to Sol 100 (Nov. 16, 2012).
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS​
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Windblown Sand from the 'Rocknest' Drift
The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity acquired close-up views of sands in the "Rocknest" wind drift to document the nature of the material that the rover scooped, sieved and delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy Experiment (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) in October and November 2012.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS​
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"We have no definitive detection of Martian organics at this point, but we will keep looking in the diverse environments of Gale Crater," said SAM Principal Investigator Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Curiosity's APXS instrument and the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover's arm confirmed Rocknest has chemical-element composition and textural appearance similar to sites visited by earlier NASA Mars rovers Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity.

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A Sampling of Martian Soils
This collage shows the variety of soils found at landing sites on Mars. The elemental composition of the typical, reddish soils were investigated by NASA's Viking, Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rover missions, and now with the Curiosity rover, using X-ray spectroscopy.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech​
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Inspecting Soils Across Mars
This graph compares the elemental composition of typical soils at three landing regions on Mars: Gusev Crater, where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit traveled; Meridiani Planum, where Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity still roams; and now Gale Crater, where NASA's newest Curiosity rover is currently investigating.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Guelph​
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Curiosity's team selected Rocknest as the first scooping site because it has fine sand particles suited for scrubbing interior surfaces of the arm's sample-handling chambers. Sand was vibrated inside the chambers to remove residue from Earth. MAHLI close-up images of Rocknest show a dust-coated crust one or two sand grains thick, covering dark, finer sand.

"Active drifts on Mars look darker on the surface," said MAHLI Principal Investigator Ken Edgett, of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. "This is an older drift that has had time to be inactive, letting the crust form and dust accumulate on it."

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Heating Martian Sand Grains
This plot of data from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the variety of gases that were released from sand grains upon heating in the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM. The gases detected were released from fine-grain material, and include water vapor, carbon dioxide, oxygen and sulfur dioxide.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC​
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Atmospheric Loss on Mars
This plot show the first-ever look at the deuterium to hydrogen ratio measured from the surface of Mars, as detected by the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM, on NASA's Curiosity rover.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC​
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CheMin's examination of Rocknest samples found the composition is about half common volcanic minerals and half non-crystalline materials such as glass. SAM added information about ingredients present in much lower concentrations and about ratios of isotopes. Isotopes are different forms of the same element and can provide clues about environmental changes. The water seen by SAM does not mean the drift was wet. Water molecules bound to grains of sand or dust are not unusual, but the quantity seen was higher than anticipated.

SAM tentatively identified the oxygen and chlorine compound perchlorate. This is a reactive chemical previously found in arctic Martian soil by NASA's Phoenix Lander. Reactions with other chemicals heated in SAM formed chlorinated methane compounds -- one-carbon organics that were detected by the instrument. The chlorine is of Martian origin, but it is possible the carbon may be of Earth origin, carried by Curiosity and detected by SAM's high sensitivity design.

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Signs of Perchlorates and Sulfur Containing Compounds
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has detected sulfur, chlorine, and oxygen compounds in fine grains scooped by the rover at a wind drift site called "Rocknest."
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC​
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Chlorinated Compounds at 'Rocknest'
The first examinations of Martian soil by the Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, instrument on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover show no definitive detection of Martian organic molecules at this point. Organic molecules are carbon-containing compounds essential for life on Earth. The soil grains were acquired from a wind drift named "Rocknest."
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC​
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"We used almost every part of our science payload examining this drift," said Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "The synergies of the instruments and richness of the data sets give us great promise for using them at the mission's main science destination on Mount Sharp."

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NASA News Release: RELEASE : 12-415 - NASA Mars Rover Fully Analyzes First Martian Soil Samples

Spaceflight Now: Mars rover Curiosity fully analyzes first soil samples

SpaceRef: Curiosity Analyzes First Martian Soil Samples

SPACE.com: Curiosity Rover Finds Organic Signal on Mars, But Not Definitive: NASA

Science Daily: Complex Chemistry Within the Martian Soil: No Definitive Detection of Organics Yet

Slate - Bad Astronomy: Curiosity Finds Cool Chemistry on Mars but No Organics

Florida Today: Is organic compound found by Curiosity from Mars?

Discovery News: Curiosity Hints at Mars Organics, Perchlorate

EurekAlert: Curiosity shakes, bakes, and tastes Mars with SAM



NASAexplorer:
 

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Is this the earth-shattering news for the history books?
 

Mandella

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Is this the earth-shattering news for the history books?

Come on Keatah. Official NASA has already explained that the NPR reporter quoted the scientist out of context, and that he was talking about the mission's findings in total as being, 'One for the history books."

Or, you know, it's all part of the big cover up, and NASA is concealing the discovery of one of Obama's lost socks or whatever he might have left behind when he visited the planet in his teens.
 

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The Planetary Society Blog: The Curiosity Kerfuffle: the big (and increasing) difference between data and discovery

NASA: Curiosity Shakes, Bakes, and Tastes Mars with SAM

Science Daily: Curiosity Shakes, Bakes, and Tastes Mars With SAM

Universe Today: Curiosity Update: No Definitive Discovery of Organics…Yet

CBS News Space: Curiosity detects organics, but more tests needed for conclusive result

RIA Novosti: NASA’s Curiosity Finds Complex Chemistry On Mars

Florida Today: Organic find by NASA's Curiosity not Mars life

AmericaSpace: New Findings Put Curiosity's Abilities to the Test

NewScientist:
Mars Daily:

Official NASA has already explained that the NPR reporter quoted the scientist out of context, and that he was talking about the mission's findings in total as being, 'One for the history books."
"This data is going to be one for the history books. It’s looking really good." < I don't see any "earth-shattering" or even a "discovery" word in that quote. The "earth-shattering discovery" was only in the reporter's mind.
 

statickid

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By the tone of the article, I'd say they are preemptively extending the mission to "indefinite" in order to justify including it in long term plans, for example it mentions MSL needing viable orbiters for communication, and points out that odyssey is showing signs of age. Maybe the will use this as a bureaucratic move to promote a new orbiting vehicle
 

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NASA JPL:
Orbiter Spies Where Rover's Cruise Stage Hit Mars

December 05, 2012

During the 10 minutes before the NASA Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft entered the Martian atmosphere to deliver the rover Curiosity to the surface, the spacecraft shed its cruise stage, which had performed vital functions during the flight from Earth, and then jettisoned two 165-pound (75-kilogram) blocks of tungsten to gain aerodynamic lift.

Cameras on the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have imaged impact scars where the tungsten blocks and the broken-apart cruise stage hit about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of where Curiosity landed on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC).

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These images from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show several impact scars on Mars made by pieces of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft that the spacecraft shed just before entering the Martian atmosphere.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona​
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The images from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera are online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16456 .

Although hundreds of new impact sites have been imaged on Mars, researchers do not get independent information about the initial size, velocity, density, strength, or impact angle of the objects. For the Mars Science Laboratory hardware, such information is known, so study of this impact field will provide information on impact processes and Mars surface and atmospheric properties.

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The Planetary Society Blog: Curiosity update, sol 117: Progress report from AGU
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
Curiosity Rover Nearing Yellowknife Bay

December 11, 2012

Mars Science Laboratory Mission Status Report

PASADENA, Calif. -- The NASA Mars rover Curiosity drove 63 feet (19 meters) northeastward early Monday, Dec. 10, approaching a step down into a slightly lower area called "Yellowknife Bay," where researchers intend to choose a rock to drill.

The drive was Curiosity's fourth consecutive driving day since leaving a site near an outcrop called "Point Lake," where it arrived last month. These drives totaled 260 feet (79 meters) and brought the mission's total odometry to 0.37 mile (598 meters).

The route took the rover close to an outcrop called "Shaler," where scientists used Curiosity's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument and Mast Camera (Mastcam) to assess the rock's composition and observe its layering. Before departure from Point Lake, a fourth sample of dusty sand that the rover had been carrying from the "Rocknest" drift was ingested and analyzed by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

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Layered Martian Outcrop 'Shaler' in 'Glenelg' Area
The NASA Mars rover Curiosity used its Mast Camera (Mastcam) during the mission's 120th Martian day, or sol (Dec. 7, 2012), to record this view of a rock outcrop informally named "Shaler."
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS​
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Curiosity Traverse Map, Sol 123
This map traces where NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove between landing at a site subsequently named "Bradbury Landing," and the position reached during the mission's 123rd Martian day, or sol, (Dec. 10, 2012). The inset shows the most recent legs of the traverse in greater detail.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona​

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Sol 120 Panorama from Curiosity, near 'Shaler'
The NASA Mars rover Curiosity used its Navigation Camera (Navcam) during the mission's 120th Martian day, or sol (Dec. 7, 2012), to record the seven images combined into this panoramic view.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech​
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Sol 120 Panorama from Curiosity, near 'Shaler' (Stereo)
This stereo panoramic view combines 14 images taken by the Navigation Camera (Navcam) on the NASA Mars rover Curiosity during the mission's 120th Martian day, or sol (Dec. 7, 2012). The scene appears three-dimensional when viewed through red-blue glasses with the red lens on the left.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech​
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Curiosity ended Monday's drive about 30 percent shorter than planned for the day when it detected a slight difference between two calculations of its tilt, not an immediate risk, but a trigger for software to halt the drive as a precaution. "The rover is traversing across terrain different from where it has driven earlier, and responding differently," said Rick Welch, mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We're making progress, though we're still in the learning phase with this rover, going a little slower on this terrain than we might wish we could."

Curiosity is approaching a lip where it will descend about 20 inches (half a meter) to Yellowknife Bay. The rover team is checking carefully for a safe way down. Yellowknife Bay is the temporary destination for first use of Curiosity's rock-powdering drill, before the mission turns southwestward for driving to its main destination on the slope of Mount Sharp.


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NASA / NASA JPL:
Mars Rover Self-Portrait Shoot Uses Arm Choreography

December 11, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. - The robotic arm on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity held the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera in more than 50 positions in one day to generate a single scene combining all the images, creating a high-resolution, full-color portrait of the rover itself.

A larger version of the previously released self-portrait is now available online, along with an animation video showing how it was taken, and a practice self-portrait taken earlier by Curiosity's test-rover double on Earth.

The new version of Curiosity's self-portrait, online at: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16457, shows more of the surrounding Martian terrain than a version completed last month.

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On the 84th and 85th Martian days of the NASA Mars rover Curiosity's mission on Mars (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2012), NASA's Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to capture dozens of high-resolution images to be combined into self-portrait images of the rover. This version of the full-color self-portrait includes more of the surrounding terrain than a version produced earlier (PIA16239).
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS​
|Camera and robotic-arm maneuvers for taking a self-portrait of the NASA Curiosity rover on Mars were checked first, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., using the main test rover for the Curiosity.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS​
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The animation video at: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=156880341 depicts how the rover moved its robotic arm on Oct. 31 to record the component images that would be combined into the self-portrait. The same software that rover planners use when designing the rover's moves was used to generate the animation.

The arm movements were practiced on Earth first, using the closest double that exists for Curiosity, the Vehicle System Test Bed rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The rover team typically uses that rover to test maneuvers before they are tried by Curiosity. The Vehicle System Test Bed's self-portrait, from the engineering model of MAHLI on that rover, is at: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16458.

MAHLI is mounted on a turret at the end of Curiosity's robotic arm. The arm is not visible in the portrait because the arm was positioned out of the shot in the images or portions of images used in the mosaic. Some images taken during the day show portions of the arm. However, the Martian ground that the arm hides from view in those images is visible in alternative images chosen for the mosaic, taking the arm out of the scene.


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SPACE.com: Drill Issue Could Threaten Mars Rover Curiosity's Mission

Mars Daily: Curiosity Rover Nearing Yellowknife Bay

Science Daily:
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay

December 18, 2012

Mars Science Laboratory Mission Status Report

PASADENA, Calif. -- The NASA Mars rover Curiosity this week is driving within a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay," providing information to help researchers choose a rock to drill.

Using Curiosity's percussive drill to collect a sample from the interior of a rock, a feat never before attempted on Mars, is the mission's priority for early 2013. After the powdered-rock sample is sieved and portioned by a sample-processing mechanism on the rover's arm, it will be analyzed by instruments inside Curiosity.

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The NASA Mars rover Curiosity used its left Navigation Camera to record this view of the step down into a shallow depression called "Yellowknife Bay."
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech​
|This map traces where NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drove between landing at a site subsequently named "Bradbury Landing," and the position reached during the mission's 130th Martian day, or sol, (Dec. 17, 2012). The inset shows the most recent legs of the traverse in greater detail.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona​
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Yellowknife Bay is within a different type of terrain from what the rover has traversed since landing inside Mars' Gale Crater on Aug. 5, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC). The terrain Curiosity has entered is one of three types that intersect at a location dubbed "Glenelg," chosen as an interim destination about two weeks after the landing.

Curiosity reached the lip of a 2-foot (half-meter) descent into Yellowknife Bay with a 46-foot (14-meter) drive on Dec. 11. The next day, a drive of about 86 feet (26.1 meters) brought the rover well inside the basin. The team has been employing the Mast Camera (Mastcam) and the laser-wielding Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) for remote-sensing studies of rocks along the way.

On Dec. 14, Curiosity drove about 108 feet (32.8 meters) to reach rock targets of interest called "Costello" and "Flaherty." Researchers used the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) at the end of the rover's arm to examine the targets. After finishing those studies, the rover drove again on Dec. 17, traveling about 18 feet (5.6 meters) farther into Yellowknife Bay. That brings the mission's total driving distance to 0.42 mile (677 meters) since Curiosity's landing.

One additional drive is planned this week before the rover team gets a holiday break. Curiosity will continue studying the Martian environment from its holiday location at the end point of that drive within Yellowknife Bay. The mission's plans for most of 2013 center on driving toward the primary science destination, a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer) layered mound called Mount Sharp.

{...}



Mars Daily: Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay'

Science Daily: Mars Curiosity Rover Explores 'Yellowknife Bay'
 

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Universe Today:
Discovery News: Curiosity at 'Grandma's House' for Holidays

Curiosity-at-Yellowknife-Bay-Sol-130_3a_Ken-Kremer.jpg
 
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