Category Archives: Mars

“Black Beauty” – a watery meteorite from Mars

In this video from the SETI Institute‘s weekly seminar series, Carl B. Agee of the University of New Mexico talks about a special meteorite from Mars:


Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034 is a new type of martian meteorite discovered in Morocco in 2011. NWA 7034 aka “Black Beauty”, nicknamed for its dark shiny appearance, contains ten times more water than other martian meteorites. This combined with its oxidation state which is highest among martian meteorites, its anomalous oxygen isotope values, and its early Amazonian age, make it an extraordinarily valuable specimen for understanding surface processes, aqueous alteration, and atmosphere/lithosphere exchange reactions that existed on Mars ~2 billion years ago.

Agee will show that Black Beauty appears to be the first martian meteorite to match the surface geochemistry of Mars, as seen by landers and orbiters, and as such, it has particular relevance to the current Mars Science Laboratory mission at Gale Crater.

Curiosity rover begins journey to Mount Sharp

The Curiosity rover is on the move:

Mars Rover Curiosity Begins Trek Toward Mount Sharp

PASADENA, Calif. – With drives on July 4 and July 7, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has departed its last science target in the “Glenelg” area and commenced a many-month overland journey to the base of the mission’s main destination, Mount Sharp.

The rover finished close-up investigation of a target sedimentary outcrop called “Shaler” last week. On July 4, it drove 59 feet (18 meters) away from Shaler. On July 7, a second drive added another 131 feet (40 meters) on the trip toward a destination about 5 miles (8 kilometers) away, the entry to the lower layers of Mount Sharp.

Mount Sharp, in the middle of Gale Crater, exposes many layers where scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved. In the Glenelg area, where Curiosity worked for the first half of 2013, the rover found evidence for an ancient wet environment that had conditions favorable for microbial life. This means the mission already accomplished its main science objective.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project’s Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is online at , and . You can follow the mission on Facebook at and on Twitter at .



First Leg of Long Trek Toward Mount Sharp

This view from the left Navigation Camera (Navcam) of NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity looks back at wheel tracks made during the first drive away from the last science target in the “Glenelg” area. The drive commenced a long trek toward the mission’s long-term destination: Mount Sharp.  Curiosity drove 59 feet (18) meters on the 324th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars. It took this image that same sol, looking back toward the target sedimentary outcrop called “Shaler.”  Wheel tracks in the right foreground of the image were left by Curiosity’s earlier passage through this area on its way toward Glenelg targets seven months earlier.

The trek to the entry point for lower layers of Mount Sharp, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) away, will take many months.  While working at targets near Shaler in the “Glenelg” area during the first half of 2013, Curiosity found evidence of a past Martian environment with conditions favorable for microbial life.  The mission’s main destination remains the lower layers of Mount Sharp, where researchers anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The latest on the Opportunity Mars rover

Here’s an extended update on what the Oppportunity Rover has been up to and where it is headed in the coming months:  Mars Exploration Rovers Mission Update: Opportunity Continues Sprint to Solander Point – The Planetary Society.

Nobby's Head

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / ASU

Nobby’s Head

Opportunity used her Pancam to record this view of the rise in the foreground, Nobby’s Head on her Sol 3335 (June 11, 2013). The rover drove around the north and west sides of Nobby’s Head during a multi-week southward drive between two raised segments of the west rim of Endeavour Crater. This view is centered toward the south- southeast, with Opportunity’s next destination, Solander Point, toward the right edge of the view. Nobby’s Head is about a third of the way from Cape York, the rim segment where Opportunity worked for most of the past two years, to Solander Point. Opportunity began a trek of approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from part of Cape York to Solander Point in late May 2013.

A billion-pixel view of Curiosity’s home on Mars

A very high-res 360 degree panorama of the landscape around the Curiosity Rover has been posted online: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover

And the main article here:

Billion-Pixel View of Mars Comes From Curiosity Rover

PASADENA, Calif. — A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.

Curiosity billion-pixel panorama

Billion-Pixel View From Curiosity at Rocknest, White-Balanced
This full-circle view combined nearly 900 images taken
by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, generating a panorama
with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version.

The first NASA-produced view from the surface of Mars larger than one billion pixels stitches together nearly 900 exposures taken by cameras onboard Curiosity and shows details of the landscape along the rover’s route.

The 1.3-billion-pixel image is available for perusal with pan and zoom tools at: .

The full-circle scene surrounds the site where Curiosity collected its first scoops of dusty sand at a windblown patch called “Rocknest,” and extends to Mount Sharp on the horizon.

“It gives a sense of place and really shows off the cameras’ capabilities,” said Bob Deen of the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “You can see the context and also zoom in to see very fine details.”

Deen assembled the product using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera. The images were taken on several different Mars days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012. Raw single-frame images received from Curiosity are promptly posted on a public website at: . Mars fans worldwide have used those images to assemble mosaic views, including at least one gigapixel scene.

The new mosaic from NASA shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.

Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.

More information about the mission is online at: and .

You can follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter at: and .

For more information about the Multi-Mission Image Processing Laboratory, see: .


See also Take a billion-pixel tour of Curiosity rover’s surroundings on Mars – Cosmic Log