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Category Archives: Mars

NASA images showcase eerie beauty of winter on Mars – CNN

Posted: December 28, 2022 at 10:03 pm

  1. NASA images showcase eerie beauty of winter on Mars  CNN
  2. NASA Takes the Sting Out of Cold Weather on Earth By Detailing Winter on Mars  ExtremeTech
  3. Winter on Mars has cubed-shaped snowflakes, NASA says  Miami Herald

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NASA Explores a Winter Wonderland on Mars

Posted: December 26, 2022 at 9:21 pm

Cube-shaped snow, icy landscapes, and frost are all part of the Red Planets coldest season.

When winter comes to Mars, the surface is transformed into a truly otherworldly holiday scene. Snow, ice, and frost accompany the seasons sub-zero temperatures. Some of the coldest of these occur at the planets poles, where it gets as low as minus 190 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 123 degrees Celsius).

Cold as it is, dont expect snow drifts worthy of the Rocky Mountains. No region of Mars gets more than a few feet of snow, most of which falls over extremely flat areas. And the Red Planets elliptical orbit means it takes many more months for winter to come around: a single Mars year is around two Earth years.

Still, the planet offers unique winter phenomena that scientists have been able to study, thanks to NASAs robotic Mars explorers. Here are a few of the things theyve discovered:

Two Kinds of Snow

Martian snow comes in two varieties: water ice and carbon dioxide, or dry ice. Because Martian air is so thin and the temperatures so cold, water-ice snow sublimates, or becomes a gas, before it even touches the ground. Dry-ice snow actually does reach the ground.

Enough falls that you could snowshoe across it, said Sylvain Piqueux, a Mars scientist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California whose research includes a variety of winter phenomena. If you were looking for skiing, though, youd have to go into a crater or cliffside, where snow could build up on a sloped surface.

How We Know It Snows

Snow occurs only at the coldest extremes of Mars: at the poles, under cloud cover, and at night. Cameras on orbiting spacecraft cant see through those clouds, and surface missions cant survive in the extreme cold. As a result, no images of falling snow have ever been captured. But scientists know it happens, thanks to a few special science instruments.

NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can peer through cloud cover using its Mars Climate Sounder instrument, which detects light in wavelengths imperceptible to the human eye. That ability has allowed scientists to detect carbon dioxide snow falling to the ground. And in 2008, NASA sent the Phoenix lander within 1,000 miles (about 1,600 kilometers) of Mars north pole, where it used a laser instrument to detect water-ice snow falling to the surface.

Cubic Snowflakes

Because of how water molecules bond together when they freeze, snowflakes on Earth have six sides. The same principle applies to all crystals: The way in which atoms arrange themselves determines a crystals shape. In the case of carbon dioxide, molecules in dry ice always bond in forms of four when frozen.

Because carbon dioxide ice has a symmetry of four, we know dry-ice snowflakes would be cube-shaped, Piqueux said. Thanks to the Mars Climate Sounder, we can tell these snowflakes would be smaller than the width of a human hair.

Jack Frost Nipping at Your Rover

Water and carbon dioxide can each form frost on Mars, and both types of frost appear far more widely across the planet than snow does. The Viking landers saw water frost when they studied Mars in the 1970s, while NASAs Odyssey orbiter has observed frost forming and sublimating away in the morning Sun.

Winters Wondrous End

Perhaps the most fabulous discovery comes at the end of winter, when all the ice that built up begins to thaw and sublimate into the atmosphere. As it does so, this ice takes on bizarre and beautiful shapes that have reminded scientists of spiders, Dalmatian spots, fried eggs, and Swiss cheese.

This thawing also causes geysers to erupt: Translucent ice allows sunlight to heat up gas underneath it, and that gas eventually bursts out, sending fans of dust onto the surface. Scientists have actually begun to study these fans as a way to learn more about which way Martian winds are blowing.

News Media Contacts

Andrew GoodJet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.818-393-2433andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Karen Fox / Alana JohnsonNASA Headquarters, Washington301-286-6284 / 202-358-1501karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

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After 4 years on Mars, NASA’s InSight lander sends one last selfie and …

Posted: at 9:21 pm

NASA's InSight lander has reached the end of its extended four-year mission. NASA announced Monday the lander's battery had finally been exhausted, succumbing to the power-sapping effects of dust buildups on its solar arrays.

"We've thought of InSight as our friend and colleague on Mars for the past four years, so it's hard to say goodbye," Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator, said in a statement. "But it has earned its richly deserved retirement."

Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, had been monitoring asteady decline in powerdue to a thick coating of martian dust and decided earlier to declare an official end to the mission if the spacecraft failed to respond after back-to-back calls from Earth.

That has now happened, and while NASA will continue to listen for a signal, it's not considered likely. The last time InSight phoned home was on December 15.

"InSight has more than lived up to its name," said JPL Director Laurie Leshin. "As a scientist who's spent a career studying Mars, it's been a thrill to see what the lander has achieved. ... Yes, it's sad to say goodbye, but InSight's legacy will live on."

InSight recently sent back one last selfie, shared by NASA via Twitter on Monday.

"My power's really low, so this may be the last image I can send," the message said. "Don't worry about me though: my time here has been both productive and serene. If I can keep talking to my mission team, I will but I'll be signing off here soon. Thanks for staying with me."

The $1 billion InSight mission was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on May 5, 2018. The spacecraft landed on a broad plain known as Elysium Palitia the following November for a planned two-year mission.

InSight was equipped with two primary instruments: the Seismic Experiment Interior Structure (SEIS) seismometer, provided by the French space agency, CNES; and the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Probe (HP3) provided by the German Aerospace Agency, DLR.

The heat probe, nicknamed "the mole," was designed to hammer its way 16 feet below the martian surface, using sensors to measure slight differences in temperature. The goal was to collect data on the soil's thermal conductivity, allowing researchers to extrapolate temperatures all the way to the core 2,000 miles below.

But the soil at the landing site proved two clumpy for the instrument to cope with and despite repeated attempts, it was unable to penetrate more than a few inches.

The seismometer, however, worked flawlessly, detecting some 1,319 marsquakes during its four years of operation, including shock waves from meteoroid impacts.

"With InSight, seismology was the focus of a mission beyond Earth for the first time since the Apollo missions, when astronauts brought seismometers to the moon," said principal investigator Philippe Lognonn of Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. "We broke new ground, and our science team can be proud of all that we've learned along the way."

NASA still has two active rovers on Mars: Curiosity, which landed in 2012, and Perseverance, which arrived in February along with amini helicopter named Ingenuity.

Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."

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See Mars at its best at opposition tonight in these free telescope webcasts – Space.com

Posted: December 12, 2022 at 5:17 am

  1. See Mars at its best at opposition tonight in these free telescope webcasts  Space.com
  2. Skywatch: Holiday Mars madness  St. Paul Pioneer Press
  3. Mars takes center stage during this month's opposition  Astronomy Magazine
  4. Stargazers watch Mars dip behind the Moon  CBS Chicago
  5. You Can See Mars in Opposition Tonight and the Next Time Won't Be Until 2025  Travel + Leisure
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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So, if men truly are from Mars and women from Venus, why is that so? – South China Morning Post

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So, if men truly are from Mars and women from Venus, why is that so?  South China Morning Post

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Chart Check: Bruno Mars Hooligans Makes Him the First Solo Act To Have A Studio Album … – ThatGrapeJuice

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Chart Check: Bruno Mars Hooligans Makes Him the First Solo Act To Have A Studio Album ...  ThatGrapeJuice

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Is Mars volcanically active? – EarthSky

Posted: November 3, 2022 at 11:05 am

  1. Is Mars volcanically active?  EarthSky
  2. A space rock slammed into Mars on Christmas Eve. It revealed a hidden surprise  CNN
  3. Marsquakes hint that the planet might be volcanically active after all  Science News Magazine
  4. NASAs InSight Lander records Meteoroid Strike on Mars  Clarksville Online
  5. Big rocks slam into Mars, gouge craters, reveal subsurface features  The Washington Post
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

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Early Life on Mars May’ve Wiped Out Early Life on Mars, a New Study …

Posted: October 25, 2022 at 10:01 pm

Life might have wiped itself out on early Mars. That's not as absurd as it sounds; that's sort of what happened on Earth.

But life on Earth evolved and persisted, while on Mars, it didn't.

Evidence shows Mars was once warm and wet and had an atmosphere. In the ancient Noachian Period, between 3.7 billion and 4.1 billion years ago, Mars also had surface water. If this is correct, Mars may have been habitable (though that doesn't necessarily mean it was inhabited.)

A new study shows that early Mars may have been hospitable to a type of organism that thrives in extreme environments here on Earth. Methanogens live in places like hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, where they convert chemical energy from their environment and release methane as a waste product. The study shows that methanogens may have thrived underground on Mars.

The study is "Early Mars habitability and global cooling by H2-based methanogens." It's published in Nature Astronomy, and the senior authors are Regis Ferrire and Boris Sauterey. Ferrire is a professor in the University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Sauterey is a former postdoctoral fellow in Ferrire's group who is now at the Sorbonne.

"Our study shows that underground, early Mars would very likely have been habitable to methanogenic microbes," Ferrire said in a press release. However, the authors are clear that they're not saying that life definitely existed on the planet.

The paper says that the microbes would've thrived in the porous, briny rock that sheltered them from UV radiation and cosmic rays. The underground environment would've also provided a diffuse atmosphere and a moderated temperature that allowed methanogens to persist.

The researchers focused on hydrogenotrophic methanogens, which take in H2 and CO2 and produce methane as waste. This type of methanogenesis was one of the earliest metabolisms to evolve on Earth. However, its "viability on early Mars has never been quantitatively evaluated," the paper says.

Until now.

There's a critical difference between ancient Mars and Earth regarding this research. On Earth, most hydrogen is tied up in water molecules, and very little is on its own. But on Mars, it was abundant in the planet's atmosphere.

That hydrogen could've been the energy supply early methanogens needed to thrive. That same hydrogen would've helped trap heat in Mars' atmosphere, keeping the planet habitable.

"We think Mars may have been a little cooler than Earth at the time, but not nearly as cold as it is now, with average temperatures hovering most likely above the freezing point of water," Ferrire said.

"While current Mars has been described as an ice cube covered in dust, we imagine early Mars as a rocky planet with a porous crust, soaked in liquid water that likely formed lakes and rivers, perhaps even seas or oceans."

On Earth, water is either salt water or fresh water. But on Mars, that distinction may not have been necessary. Instead, all of the water was briny, according to spectroscopic measurements of Martian surface rocks.

The research team used models of Mars' climate, crust, and atmosphere to evaluate methanogens on ancient Mars. They also used a model of an ecological community of Earthlike microbes that metabolize hydrogen and carbon.

By working with these ecosystem models, the researchers were able to predict whether methanogen populations were able to survive. But they went further; they were able to predict what effect these populations had on their environment.

"Once we had produced our model, we put it to work in the Martian crust figuratively speaking," said the paper's first author, Boris Sauterey.

"This allowed us to evaluate how plausible a Martian underground biosphere would be. And if such a biosphere existed, how it would have modified the chemistry of the Martian crust, and how these processes in the crust would have affected the chemical composition of the atmosphere."

"Our goal was to make a model of the Martian crust with its mix of rock and salty water, let gases from the atmosphere diffuse into the ground, and see whether methanogens could live with that," said Ferrire. "And the answer is, generally speaking, yes, these microbes could have made a living in the planet's crust."

The question became, how deep would you have to go to find it? It's a question of balance, according to the researchers.

While the atmosphere held abundant hydrogen and carbon the organisms could've used for energy, Mars' surface was still cold. Not frozen like it is today, but much colder than modern Earth.

The microorganisms would've benefited from the warmer temperatures underground, but the deeper you go, the less hydrogen and carbon are available.

"The problem is that even on early Mars, it was still very cold on the surface, so microbes would have had to go deeper into the crust to find habitable temperatures," Sauterey said.

"The question is how deep does the biology need to go to find the right compromise between temperature and availability of molecules from the atmosphere they needed to grow? We found that the microbial communities in our models would have been happiest in the upper few hundreds of meters."

They would've remained nestled in the upper crust for a long time. But as the microbe communities persisted, taking in hydrogen and carbon and releasing methane, they would've changed the environment.

The team modeled all of the above and below-ground processes and how they would've influenced each other. They predicted the resulting climatic feedback and how it changed Mars' atmosphere.

The team says that over time, the methanogens would've initiated a global climatic cooling as they changed the atmosphere's chemical makeup. The briny water in the crust would've frozen to greater and greater depths as the planet cooled.

That cooling would've eventually made Mars' surface uninhabitable. As the planet cooled, the organisms would've been driven further underground, away from the cold.

But the porosity in the regolith would've become plugged by ice, blocking the atmosphere from reaching those depths, and starving the methanogens of energy.

"According to our results, Mars' atmosphere would have been completely changed by biological activity very rapidly, within a few tens or hundreds of thousands of years," Sauterey said. "By removing hydrogen from the atmosphere, microbes would have dramatically cooled down the planet's climate."

The result? Extinction.

"The problem these microbes would have then faced is that Mars' atmosphere basically disappeared, completely thinned, so their energy source would have vanished, and they would have had to find an alternate source of energy," Sauterey said.

"In addition, the temperature would have dropped significantly, and they would have had to go much deeper into the crust. For the moment, it is very difficult to say how long Mars would have remained habitable."

The researchers also identified places on the Martian surface where future missions have the best chances of finding evidence of the planet's ancient life.

"Near-surface populations would have been the most productive ones, therefore maximizing the likelihood of biomarkers preserved in detectable quantities," the authors write in their paper. "The first few meters of the Martian crust are also the most easily accessible to exploration given the technology currently embarked on Martian rovers."

According to the researchers, Hellas Planitia is the best place to look for evidence of this early underground life because it remained ice-free. Unfortunately, that region is home to powerful dust storms and unsuitable for rover exploration. According to the authors, if human explorers ever visit Mars, then Hellas Planitia is an ideal exploration site.

Life on ancient Mars is no longer a revolutionary idea and hasn't been one for a long time. So the more interesting part of this research might be how early life changed its environment. That happened on Earth and led to the development of more complex life after the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE.)

Early Earth was inhabited by simple lifeforms, too. But Earth was different; organisms evolved a new pathway to harness energy. There was no oxygen in Earth's early atmosphere, and Earth's first inhabitants thrived in its absence. Then along came cyanobacteria, which use photosynthesis for energy and produce oxygen as a by-product.

Cyanobacteria liked oxygen, and Earth's first tenants didn't. The cyanobacteria grew in mats that created a region of oxygenated water around themselves in which they thrived.

Eventually, cyanobacteria oxygenated the oceans and atmosphere until Earth became toxic to other life. Methanogens and Earth's other early life can't handle oxygen.

Scientists don't quite call the death of all those primitive organisms an extinction, but the word comes close. Some ancient microbes or their descendants survive on modern-day Earth, driven into oxygen-poor environments.

But that was Earth. On Mars, there was no evolutionary leap into photosynthesis or something else that led to a new way to acquire energy. Eventually, Mars cooled and froze and lost its atmosphere. Is Mars dead now?

It's possible that Martian life found refuge in isolated locations in the planet's crust.

A 2021 study used modeling to show that there might be a source of hydrogen in Mars' crust, one that replenishes itself. The study showed that radioactive elements in the crust could break apart water molecules by radiolysis, making hydrogen available to methanogens. Radiolysisysis has allowed isolated communities of bacteria in water-filled cracks and pores in Earth's crust to persist for millions, possibly even billions of years.

And the Deep Carbon Observatory found that life buried in Earth's crust contains up to 400 times the carbon mass of all humans. The DCO also found that the deep subsurface biosphere is almost twice the volume of the world's oceans.

Could there still be life in Mars' crust, feeding on hydrogen created by radiolysis? There are puzzling detections of methane in the atmosphere that are still unexplained.

Many scientists think that the subsurface of Mars is the most likely place in the Solar System to harbor life, besides Earth, of course. (Sorry, Europa.) Maybe it does, and maybe we'll find it one day.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity reaches intriguing salty site after …

Posted: at 10:01 pm

After a treacherous journey, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has reached an area that is thought to have formed billions of years ago when the Red Planet's water disappeared.

This region of Mount Sharp, the Curiosity rover's Martian stomping ground, is rich in salty minerals that scientists think were left behind when streams and ponds dried up. As such, this region could hold tantalizing clues about how the Martian climate changed from being similar to Earth's to the frozen, barren desert that Curiosity explores today.

The salty minerals that enrich this area of Mount Sharp were first spotted by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter years before Curiosity touched down on the Martian surface in 2012.

Related: Curiosity rover: 15 awe-inspiring photos of Mars (gallery)

When Curiosity finally got a close-up look at the terrain of Mount Sharp, the rover discovered a diverse array of rock types and signs of past water, including popcorn-textured nodules and salty minerals such as magnesium sulfate, calcium sulfate (including gypsum) and sodium chloride, which makes up ordinary table salt.

After accounting for stresses on the rotary drill at the end of the rover's 7-foot (2 meters) arm that's used to pulverize rock samples for analysis, the Curiosity team selected a rock nicknamed "Canaima" for the drilling and collection of the mission's 36th drill sample.

"As we do before every drill, we brushed away the dust and then poked the top surface of Canaima with the drill," Kathya Zamora-Garcia, Curiosity's project manager, said in a statement. "The lack of scratch marks or indentations was an indication that it may prove difficult to drill."

The team then stopped to see whether that posed a danger to Curiosity's arm. With a new drilling algorithm created to minimize the use of percussion, which is a hammering motion used by drills to penetrate hard surfaces, they decided to proceed, and no percussion was needed, Zamora-Garcia explained.

The team will now analyze pieces of the sample collected from Canaima using Curiosity's Chemical and Mineralogy instrument and Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.

To reach the sulfate-rich region, the Curiosity rover spent August journeying through a narrow, sand-lined stretch called Paraitepuy Pass. It took over a month for Curiosity to safely navigate this treacherous terrain, which snakes between high hills. Although Paraitepuy Pass is mostly free of sharp rocks that could damage the rover's wheels, sand can be just as hazardous for Curiosity; if its wheels lose traction, the rover could get stuck.

The rover's drivers also had another challenge to consider: The Martian sky was blocked by the hills around it, meaning Curiosity had to be carefully positioned so that its antennas pointed toward Earth and could remain in contact with Mars orbiters.

As the team carefully navigated this path, they were rewarded with some stunning images from Curiosity's Mastcam, particularly a panorama of the region captured on Aug. 14.

"We would get new images every morning and just be in awe," Curiosity's science operations coordinator, Elena Amador-French, who manages collaboration between the science and engineering teams, said in the statement. "The sand ridges were gorgeous. You see perfect little rover tracks on them. And the cliffs were beautiful we got really close to the walls."

Despite clearing Paraitepuy Pass, Curiosity has a tough road ahead. This salty region comes with its own challenges in particular, the rover's operating team will have to account for the rocky terrain that makes it harder to place all six of Curiosity's wheels on stable ground.

If Curiosity isn't stable, operators won't risk unfolding its drill-holding arm in case it clashes with jagged rocks.

"The more and more interesting the science results get, the more obstacles Mars seems to throw at us," Amador-French said.

Curiosity will continue to explore this area, proving that after 10 years on Mars, the rover still has a lot of ground to cover.

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Tantalizing Science and Dangerous Hazards: NASAs Curiosity Mars Rover …

Posted: at 10:01 pm

Low-angle self-portrait of NASAs Curiosity Mars rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASAs Curiosity Mars Rover has arrived at a special region believed to have formed as Mars climate was drying.

After trekking this summer through a narrow, sand-lined pass, NASAs Curiosity Mars rover recently arrived in the sulfate-bearing unit. This long-sought region of Mount Sharp is enriched with abundant salty minerals.

Scientists hypothesize that the minerals were left behind billions of years ago when the water dried up in streams and ponds. Assuming this hypothesis is correct, these minerals offer tantalizing clues as to how and why the Red Planets climate changed from being more Earth-like to the frozen desert it is today.

Curiositys View of Paraitepuy Pass: NASAs Curiosity Mars rover used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to capture this panorama while driving toward the center of this scene, an area that forms the narrow Paraitepuy Pass on Aug. 14, the 3,563rd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Years before Curiosity landed in 2012, the minerals were spotted by NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, so scientists have been waiting a long time to see this terrain up close. Soon after arriving, the rover discovered a diverse array of rock types and signs of past water, among them popcorn-textured nodules and salty minerals such as magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt is one kind), calcium sulfate (including gypsum), and sodium chloride (ordinary table salt).

They selected a rock nicknamed Canaima for the missions 36th drill sample, and choosing was no easy task. Along with scientific considerations, the team had to factor in the rover hardware. Curiosity uses a percussive, or jackhammering, rotary drill at the end of its 7-foot (2-meter) arm to pulverize rock samples for analysis. Worn brakes on the arm recently led the team to conclude that some harder rocks may require too much hammering to drill safely.

Curiositys View of Sand Ridges and Bolvar: NASAs Curiosity Mars rover used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to capture this panorama of a hill nicknamed Bolivar and adjacent sand ridges on August 23, the 3,572nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

As we do before every drill, we brushed away the dust and then poked the top surface of Canaima with the drill. The lack of scratch marks or indentations was an indication that it may prove difficult to drill, said Curiositys new project manager, Kathya Zamora-Garcia of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. We paused to consider whether that posed any risk to our arm. With the new drilling algorithm, created to minimize the use of percussion, we felt comfortable collecting a sample of Canaima. As it turned out, no percussion was needed.

The missions scientists look forward to analyzing portions of the sample with the Chemical and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument (SAM).

The journey to the sulfate-rich region took Curiosity through treacherous terrain, including, this past August, the sandy Paraitepuy Pass, which snakes between high hills. It took the rover more than a month to safely navigate in order to finally reach its destination.

While sharp rocks can damage Curiositys wheels (which have plenty of life left in them), sand can be just as hazardous, potentially causing the rover to get stuck if the wheels lose traction. Rover drivers need to carefully navigate these areas.

Curiositys 36 Drill Holes: This grid shows all 36 holes drilled by NASAs Curiosity Mars rover using the drill on the end of its robotic arm. The rover analyzes powderized rock from the drilling activities. The images in the grid were captured by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the end of Curiositys arm. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The hills blocked Curiositys view of the sky, requiring the rover to be carefully oriented based on where it could point its antennas toward Earth and how long it could communicate with orbiters passing overhead.

After braving those risks, the team was rewarded with some of the most inspiring scenery of the mission, which the rover captured with an August 14 panorama using its Mast Camera, or Mastcam.

We would get new images every morning and just be in awe, said Elena Amador-French of JPL. The sand ridges were gorgeous. You see perfect little rover tracks on them. And the cliffs were beautiful we got really close to the walls. Amador-French is Curiositys science operations coordinator, who manages collaboration between the science and engineering teams.

Curiositys 36th Drill Hole at Canaima: Curiosity used its Mast Camera, or Mastcam, to capture this image of its 36th successful drill hole on Mount Sharp, at a rock called Canaima. The rovers Mars Hand Lens Imager took the inset image. The pulverized rock sample was acquired on October 3, 2022, the missions 3,612th Martian day, or sol. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

However, this new region comes with its own challenges: While scientifically compelling, the rockier terrain makes it harder to find a place where all six of Curiositys wheels are on stable ground. If the rover isnt stable, engineers wont risk unstowing the arm, in case it might bang into the jagged rocks.

The more and more interesting the science results get, the more obstacles Mars seems to throw at us, Amador-French said.

But the rover, which recently marked its 10th year on Mars, and its team are ready for this next chapter of their adventure.

More About Curiosity

The Curiosity mission is led by NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. JPL leads the mission on behalf of NASAs Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego built and operates Mastcam.

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