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  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on May 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mars Exploration, Mars explorers and orbiters   

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe: “Sculpted by nature on Mars” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United Space in Europe

    5.14.20

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    Topographic view of Tempe Fossae on Mars.© ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    This colour-coded topographic image shows part of Mars’ surface located northeast of the Tharsis volcanic province, based on data gathered by the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera on 30 September 2019 during orbit 19913. This is a portion of Tempe Fossae – a series of tectonic faults that cuts across Tempe Terra in Mars’ northern highlands.

    This view is based on a digital terrain model (DTM) of the region, from which the topography of the landscape can be derived; lower parts of the surface are shown in blues and purples, while higher altitude regions show up in whites, yellows and reds, as indicated on the scale to the top right. North is to the right.

    Nature is a powerful sculptor – as shown in this image from ESA’s Mars Express, which portrays a heavily scarred, fractured martian landscape. This terrain was formed by intense and prolonged forces that acted upon Mars’ surface for hundreds of millions of years.

    Features on Mars often trick the eye. It can be difficult to tell if the ground has risen up towards you, or dropped away. This is a common phenomenon with impact craters especially, and is aptly named the ‘crater/dome illusion’; in some images, craters appear to be large domes arching up towards the viewer – but look again, and they instead become a depression in the surrounding terrain, as expected.

    Such a phenomenon is at play in this image from Mars Express, which shows part of Tempe Fossae, a series of faults that cuts across the region of Tempe Terra in Mars’ northern highlands.

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    Faults and scars near Tharsis province on Mars. © ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Despite any initial visual confusion, this landscape is a mix of faults, elevated ground, deep valleys, and largely parallel ridges, extending both down into the surface and up above the martian crust. The crater/dome illusion is actually just a trick of the light caused by our eyes incorrectly interpreting shadows. Comparing this image to the aforementioned image of Ascuris Planum, a similar terrain, highlights this nicely, demonstrating the importance of lighting conditions in photography.

    Our Earth-bound eyes are accustomed to seeing images lit from above, but this is not the default orientation for spacecraft, which can gather data at all angles of sunlight.

    Exploring the geology of Mars is a key objective of Mars Express.

    ESA Mars Express Orbiter

    Launched in 2003, the spacecraft has been orbiting the Red Planet for over a decade and a half; it has since been joined by the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which arrived in 2016, while the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover and its accompanying surface science platform are scheduled for launch in 2022.

    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover depiction

    See the full article here .


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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:48 am on May 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "An Ancient Meteorite Is The First Chemical Evidence of Volcanic Convection on Mars", Mars Exploration,   

    From Science Alert: “An Ancient Meteorite Is The First Chemical Evidence of Volcanic Convection on Mars” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert

    11 MAY 2020
    MICHELLE STARR

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    A composite Viking orbiter image of Olympus Mons on Mars, the tallest known volcano and mountain in the Solar System. NASA.

    For many years, we thought Mars was dead. A dusty, dry, barren planet, where nothing moves but the howling wind. Recently, however, pieces of evidence have started to emerge, hinting that Mars is both volcanically and geologically active.

    Well, the idea of a volcanically active Mars just got a little more real. A meteorite that formed deep within the belly of Mars has just provided the first solid chemical proof of magma convection within the Martian mantle, scientists say.

    Crystals of olivine in the Tissint meteorite that fell to Earth in 2011 could only have formed in changing temperatures as it was rapidly swirled about in magma convection currents – showing that the planet was volcanically active when the crystals formed around 574 to 582 million years ago – and it could still be intermittently so today.

    “There was no previous evidence of convection on Mars, but the question ‘Is Mars a still volcanically active planet?’ was previously investigated using different methods,” explained planetary geologist Nicola Mari of the University of Glasgow to ScienceAlert.

    “However, this is the first study that proves activity in the Mars interior from a purely chemical point of view, on real Martian samples.”

    Olivine, a magnesium iron silicate, isn’t rare. It crystallises from cooling magma, and it’s very common in Earth’s mantle; in fact, the olivine group dominates Earth’s mantle, usually as part of a rock mass. On Earth’s surface, it’s found in igneous rock.

    It’s fairly common in meteorites. And olivine is also fairly common on Mars. In fact, the presence of olivine on the surface of Mars has previously been taken as evidence of the planet’s dryness, since the mineral weathers rapidly in the presence of water.

    But when Mari and his team started studying the olivine crystals in the Tissint meteorite to try to understand the magma chamber where it formed, they noticed something strange. The crystals had irregularly spaced phosphorus-rich bands.

    We know of this phenomenon on Earth – it’s a process called solute trapping. But it was a surprise to find it on Mars.

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    (Mari et al., Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 2020)

    “This occurs when the rate of crystal growth exceeds the rate at which phosphorus can diffuse through the melt, thus the phosphorus is obliged to enter the crystal structure instead of ‘swimming’ in the liquid magma,” Mari said.

    “In the magma chamber that generated the lava that I studied, the convection was so vigorous that the olivines were moved from the bottom of the chamber (hotter) to the top (cooler) very rapidly – to be precise, this likely generated cooling rates of 15-30 degrees Celsius per hour for the olivines.”

    The larger of the olivine crystals were also revealing. Traces of nickel and cobalt are in agreement with previous findings that they originated from deep under the Martian crust, a depth of 40 to 80 kilometres (25 to 50 miles).

    This supplied the pressure at which they formed; along with the equilibration temperature of olivine, the team could now perform thermodynamic calculations to discover the temperature in the mantle at which the crystals formed.

    They found that the Martian mantle probably had a temperature of around 1,560 degrees Celsius in the Martian Late Amazonian period when the olivine formed. This is very close to the ambient mantle temperature of Earth of 1,650 degrees Celsius during the Archean Eon, 4 to 2.5 billion years ago.

    That doesn’t mean Mars is just like an early Earth. But it does mean that Mars could have retained quite a bit of heat under its mantle; it’s thought that, because it lacks the plate tectonics that help to dissipate heat on Earth, Mars may cool more slowly.

    “I really think that Mars could be a still volcanically active world today, and these new results point toward this,” Mari told ScienceAlert.

    “We may not see a volcanic eruption on Mars for the next 5 million years, but this doesn’t mean that the planet is inactive. It could just mean that the timing between eruptions between Mars and Earth is different, and instead of seeing one or more eruptions per day (as on Earth) we could see a Martian eruption every n-millions of years.”

    We’ll need more research to confidently say this hypothesis checks out. But these results also mean that previous interpretations of the planet’s dryness based on surface olivine may need to be revisited. (Although let us be clear, Mars is still extremely dry.)

    The ongoing NASA InSight mission that recently found evidence of Marsquakes, measures – among other things – the heat flux from the Martian crust. If Mars is still volcanically active, we may know more about it really soon.

    NASA/Mars InSight Lander

    The research has been published in Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 12:47 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Magnetic Fields Around NASA's Mars Lander Are 10 Times Stronger Than Scientists Expected", , , , , , Mars Exploration, NASA Incite, ,   

    From Universe Today via Science Alert: “Magnetic Fields Around NASA’s Mars Lander Are 10 Times Stronger Than Scientists Expected” 

    universe-today

    From Universe Today

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    9 MARCH 2020
    MATT WILLIAMS, UNIVERSE TODAY

    1
    NASA Insight (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    When NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (Insight) lander set down on Mars in November of 2018, it began its two-year primary mission of studying Mars’ seismology and interior environment.

    And now, just over a year and a half later, the results of the lander’s first twelve months on the Martian surface have been released in a series of studies.

    One of these studies, which was recently published in the journal Nature Geosciences, shared some rather interesting finds about magnetic fields on Mars.

    According to the research team behind it, the magnetic field within the crater where InSight’s landed is ten times stronger than expected. These findings could help scientists resolve key mysteries about Mars’ formation and subsequent evolution.

    These readings were obtained by InSight’s magnetic sensor, which studied the magnetic fields within the mission’s landing zone. This shallow crater, known as “Homestead hollow”, is located in the region called Elysium Planitia – a flat-smooth plain just north of the equator.

    This region was selected because it has the right combination of flat topology, low elevation, and low debris to allow InSight to probe deep into the interior of Mars.

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    Sources of magnetism detected by magnetic sensor aboard the Mars InSight Lander. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

    Prior to this mission, the best estimates of Martian magnetic fields came from satellites in orbit and were averaged over distances of more than 150 kilometres (93 miles).

    Catherine Johnson, a professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia and a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute (PSI), was the lead author on the study. As she said in a recent UBC News story:

    “One of the big unknowns from previous satellite missions was what the magnetization looked like over small areas. By placing the first magnetic sensor at the surface, we have gained valuable new clues about the interior structure and upper atmosphere of Mars that will help us understand how it – and other planets like it – formed.”

    “The ground-level data give us a much more sensitive picture of magnetization over smaller areas, and where it’s coming from. In addition to showing that the magnetic field at the landing site was ten times stronger than the satellites anticipated, the data implied it was coming from nearby sources.”

    Measuring magnetic fields on Mars is key to understanding the nature and strength of the global magnetic field (aka magnetosphere) that Mars had billions of years ago.

    The presence of this magnetosphere has been inferred from the presence of magnetized rocks on the planet’s surface, leading to localized and relatively weak magnetic fields.

    According to data gathered by MAVEN and other missions, scientists predict that roughly 4.2 billion years ago, this magnetic field suddenly ‘switched off’. This resulted in solar wind slowly stripping the Martian atmosphere away over the next few hundred million years, which is what led to the surface becoming the dry and desiccated place it is today.

    Because most rocks on the surface of Mars are too young to have been magnetized by this ancient field, the team thinks it must be coming from deeper underground.

    As Johnson explained:

    “We think it’s coming from much older rocks that are buried anywhere from a couple hundred feet to ten kilometers below ground. We wouldn’t have been able to deduce this without the magnetic data and the geology and seismic information InSight has provided.”

    By combining InSight data with magnetic readings obtained by Martian orbiters in the past, Johnson and her colleagues hope to be able to identify exactly which rocks are magnetized and how old they are.

    These efforts will be bolstered by future missions to study Martian rocks, such as NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, the ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover, and China’s Huoxing-1 (HX-1) mission – all of which are scheduled to launch this summer.

    Depiction of NASA Mars 2020 Rover officially named “Perseverence”

    ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover depiction

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    Huoxing-1 (HX-1) depiction. China

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    Artist’s impression of the interaction between solar wind and the planets Mars (left) and Earth (right).(NASA)

    InSight’s magnetometer also managed to gather data on phenomena that exist high in Mars’ upper atmosphere as well as the space environment surrounding the planet.

    Like Earth, Mars is exposed to solar wind, the stream of charged particles that emanate from the Sun and carry its magnetic field into interplanetary space – hence the name interplanetary magnetic field (IMF).

    But since Mars lacks a magnetosphere, it is less protected from solar wind and weather events. This allows the lander to study the effects of both on the surface of the planet, which scientists have been unable to do until now.

    Said Johnson:

    “Because all of our previous observations of Mars have been from the top of its atmosphere or even higher altitudes, we didn’t know whether disturbances in solar wind would propagate to the surface. That’s an important thing to understand for future astronaut missions to Mars.”

    Another interesting find was the way the local magnetic field fluctuated between day and night, not to mention the short pulsations that occurred around midnight and lasted for just a few minutes. Johnson and her colleagues theorize that these are caused by interactions between solar radiation, the IMF, and particles in the upper atmosphere to produce electrical currents (and hence, magnetic fields).

    These readings confirm that events taking place in and above Mars’ upper atmosphere can be detected at the surface. They also provide an indirect picture of the planet’s atmospheric properties, like how charged it becomes and what currents exist in the upper atmosphere.

    As for the mysterious pulses, Johnson and her team are not sure what causes them but think that they are also related to how solar wind interacts with Mars.

    In the future, the InSight team hopes that their efforts to gather data on the surface magnetic field will coincide with the MAVEN orbiter passing overhead, which will allow them to compare data.

    As InSight’s principal investigator, Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, summarized:

    The main function of the magnetic sensor was to weed out magnetic ‘noise,’ both from the environment and the lander itself, for our seismic experiments, so this is all bonus information that directly supports the overarching goals of the mission. The time-varying fields, for example, will be very useful for future studies of the deep conductivity structure of Mars, which is related to its internal temperature.”

    This study is one of six that resulted from InSight’s first year of mission data, which can be accessed here. However, this is just the beginning for the InSight mission, which will wrap up its two-year primary mission towards the end of 2020.

    Of particular interest are the X-band radio measurements that will show how much Mars’ “wobbles” as it spins on its axis, which in turn will help reveal the true nature of the planet’s core (solid or liquid?).

    Exciting times lie ahead for the many missions we have (or will be sending) to Mars! Be sure to check out this video of the InSight mission too, courtesy of NASA JPL:

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 11:14 am on November 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "ESA’s Mars orbiters did not see latest Curiosity methane burst", , , , , , In June NASA’s Curiosity rover reported the highest burst of methane recorded yet., Mars Exploration, Methane is of such fascination because on Earth a large proportion is generated by living things.   

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe: “ESA’s Mars orbiters did not see latest Curiosity methane burst” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency – United space in Europe

    United space in Europe

    13/11/2019

    Marco Giuranna
    PFS principal investigator (Mars Express)
    Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica – Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali (INAF–IAPS)
    Roma, Italy
    Email: marco.giuranna@iaps.inaf.it

    Dmitri Titov
    ESA Mars Express project scientist
    Email: Dmitri.Titov@esa.int

    Oleg Korablev
    ACS principal investigator (TGO)
    Space Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences
    Moscow, Russia
    Email:korab@iki.rssi.ru

    Ann-Carine Vandaele
    NOMAD principal investigator (TGO)
    Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Belgium
    Email: a-c.vandaele@aeronomie.be

    Håkan Svedhem
    ESA TGO project scientist
    Email: Hakan.Svedhem@esa.int

    In June, NASA’s Curiosity rover reported the highest burst of methane recorded yet, but neither ESA’s Mars Express nor the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter recorded any signs of the elusive gas, despite flying over the same location at a similar time.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover

    ESA/Mars Express Orbiter

    ESA/ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter

    Methane is of such fascination because on Earth a large proportion is generated by living things. It is known that methane has a lifetime of several hundred years before it is broken down by the Sun’s radiation, so the fact that it is detected on Mars suggests it has been released into the atmosphere recently – even if the gas itself was generated billions of years ago.

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    Key methane measurements at Mars. This graphic summarises significant measurement attempts of methane at Mars. Reports of methane have been made by Earth-based telescopes, ESA’s Mars Express from orbit around Mars, and NASA’s Curiosity located on the surface at Gale Crater; they have also reported measurement attempts with no or very little methane detected. More recently, the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter reported an absence of methane, and provided a very low upper limit.
    In order to reconcile the range of results, which show variations in both time and location, scientists have to understand better the different processes acting to create and destroy methane.

    The methane mystery on Mars has had many twists and turns in recent years with unexpected detections and non-detections alike. Earlier this year it was reported that ESA’s Mars Express had detected a signature that matched one of Curiosity’s detections from within Gale Crater.

    A recent spike by Curiosity, measured on 19 June 2019, and the highest yet at 21 ppbv, adds to the mystery because preliminary analysis suggest that Mars Express did not detect any on this occasion. (For comparison, the concentration of methane in Earth’s atmosphere is around 1800 ppbv, meaning that for every billion molecules in a given volume, 1800 are methane.)

    The Mars Express measurements were taken in the martian daytime about five hours after Curiosity’s nighttime measurements; data collected by Mars Express over one day before also did not reveal any signatures. Meanwhile Curiosity’s readings had returned to background levels when further measurements were taken in the following days.

    The Mars Express measurement technique allowing data to be inferred right down to the martian surface with its limit of detection around 2 ppbv.

    3
    How to create and destroy methane at Mars.

    The ESA-Roscosmos Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), the most sensitive detector for trace gases at Mars, also did not detect any methane while flying nearby within a few days before and after Curiosity’s detection.

    In general, TGO is capable of measuring at parts per trillion levels and accessing down to about 3 km altitude, but this can depend on how dusty the atmosphere is. When measurements were taken at low latitudes on 21 June 2019, the atmosphere was dusty and cloudy, resulting in measurements accessing 20-15 km above the surface with an upper limit of 0.07 ppbv.

    The global lack of methane recorded by TGO is adding to the overall mystery, and corroborating the results of the different instruments is keeping all teams busy.

    4
    Ten things you did not know about Mars: 7. Methane.The story of methane on Mars is a subject of intense debate. On Earth, methane is mainly created by living organisms, but also through natural geological processes. It has a relatively short lifetime of around 400 years – because it is broken down by ultraviolet light – so detecting it on another planet raises exciting questions as to how it is produced. Previous observations of Mars, by both Earth-based telescopes and ESA’s Mars Express, hint at seasonal variations in methane abundance, with concentrations varying with location and time. NASA’s Curiosity rover has also reported methane ‘spikes’, with one corresponding to a detection by Mars Express. Curiously, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, the most sensitive atmosphere analyser at Mars, has not yet detected any. In order to reconcile the range of results, which show variations in both time and location, scientists have to understand better the different processes acting to create and destroy methane.

    It is also important to note that not all life creates methane, so even if there is no methane-generating biology, it does not mean there is no life on Mars. The ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars rover, arriving at Mars in 2021, will be able to drill down below the surface, away from the harsh radiation that would destroy any life there today, to search for evidence underground.

    ESA has demonstrated expertise in studying Mars from orbit, now we are looking to secure a safe landing, to rove across the surface and to drill underground to search for evidence of life. Our orbiters are already in place to provide data relay services for surface missions. The next logical step is to bring samples back to Earth, to provide access to Mars for scientists globally, and to better prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet.

    This set of infographics highlight’s ESA’s contribution to Mars exploration as we ramp up to the launch of our second ExoMars mission, and look beyond to completing a Mars Sample Return mission.

    “Taking the results together suggests that the latest spike measured by Curiosity was very short lived – less than one martian day – and likely local,” says Marco Giuranna, principal investigator for the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer onboard Mars Express that is used to detect methane.

    “Curiosity measured the methane at night, and if it was released at that time, we would expect it to have been trapped near the surface until sunrise before getting rapidly mixed and transported away. As a result, there would be no chance for it to be detected by Mars Express or TGO.

    “By comparison, the spike we co-measured in 2013 must have been of a longer duration or more intense at its source – which we believe was outside Gale Crater – such that it could be detected by our instrument on Mars Express as well.”

    The teams are continuing to look into the influence of atmospheric circulation between day and night, and if the location of Curiosity inside an impact crater plays a role. They are also studying the way that methane is destroyed, in case the gas is being absorbed by surface rocks again before it is circulated more widely into the atmosphere.

    “Combining observations from the surface and from orbit with future coordinated observations will help us understand the behaviour of methane in the atmosphere, with non-detections like that from TGO providing upper limits, constraints and important context,” adds Håkan Svedhem, ESA’s TGO project scientist.

    The Curiosity measurements were made by the Sample Analysis at Mars tunable laser spectrometer, the Mars Express measurements were taken by the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) and the TGO measurements were taken by the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS) and the Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery (NOMAD) instrument. The TGO results were presented at the International Conference on Mars in Pasadena, California in July and at the EPSC-DPS conference in Geneva in September. The full analysis of the Mars Express data is ongoing and will be reported formally at a later date.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:51 am on October 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How will we land on Mars?", FUN3D-computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code, Mars Exploration, NASA expects humans to voyage to Mars by the mid- to late 2030s, , Retropropulsion-powered descent to Mars' surface, ,   

    From Science Node: “How will we land on Mars?” 

    Science Node bloc
    From Science Node

    23 Oct, 2019
    Katie Elyce Jones

    The type of vehicle that will carry people to the Red Planet is shaping up to be “like a two-story house you’re trying to land on another planet. The heat shield on the front of the vehicle is just over 16 meters in diameter, and the vehicle itself, during landing, weighs tens of metric tons. It’s huge,” said Ashley Korzun, a research aerospace engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

    Safe descent. NASA research team uses Summit supercomputer to simulate a retropropulsion-powered descent to Mars’ surface. Courtesy Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility.

    A vehicle for human exploration will weigh considerably more than the familiar, car-sized rovers like Curiosity, which have been deployed to the planetary surface by parachute.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover

    “You can’t use parachutes to land very large payloads on the surface of Mars,” Korzun said. “The physics just breaks down. You have to do something else.”

    NASA expects humans to voyage to Mars by the mid- to late 2030s, so engineers have been at the drafting board for some time. Now, they have a promising solution in retropropulsion, or engine-powered deceleration.

    “Instead of pushing you forward, retropropulsion engines slow you down, like brakes,” Korzun said.

    Led by Eric Nielsen, a senior research scientist at NASA Langley, a team of scientists and engineers including Korzun is using Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), to simulate retropropulsion for landing humans on Mars.

    ORNL IBM AC922 SUMMIT supercomputer, No.1 on the TOP500. Credit: Carlos Jones, Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Dept. of Energy

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    A vehicle delivering humans to Mars will weigh much more than rovers like Curiosity which have been successfully deployed. Landing the heavier craft is an engineering challenge. Courtesy NASA.

    “We’re able to demonstrate pretty revolutionary performance on Summit relative to what we were accustomed to with a conventional computing approach,” Nielsen said.

    The team uses its computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code called FUN3D to model the vehicle’s Martian descent. CFD applications use large systems of equations to simulate the small-scale interactions of fluids (including gases) during flow and turbulence—in this case, to capture the aerodynamic effects created by the landing vehicle and the atmosphere.

    “FUN3D and the computing capability itself have been completely game-changing, allowing us to move forward with technology development for retropropulsion, which has applications on Earth, the Moon, and Mars,” Korzun said.

    Sticking the landing

    NASA has already successfully deployed eight landers on Mars, including mobile science laboratories equipped with cameras, sensors, and communications devices—and researchers are familiar with the planet’s other-worldly challenges.

    The Martian atmosphere is about 100 times thinner (less dense) than Earth’s, which results in a speedy descent from orbit—about 6 to 7 minutes rather than the 35- to 40-minute reentry time for Earth.

    “We can’t match all of the relevant physics in ground or flight testing on Earth, so we’re very reliant on computational capability,” Korzun said. “This is really the first opportunity—at this level of fidelity and resolution—that we’ve been able to see what happens to the vehicle as it slows down with its engines on.”

    During retropropulsion, the vehicle is sensitive to large variations in aerodynamic forces, which can impact engine performance and the crew’s ability to control and land the vehicle at a targeted location.

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    Snapshot of total temperature distribution at supersonic speed. Total temperature allows researchers to visualize the extent of the exhaust plumes which are much hotter than the surrounding atmosphere. Courtesy NASA.

    The team needs a powerful supercomputer like the 200-petaflop Summit to simulate the entire vehicle as it navigates a range of atmospheric and engine conditions.

    To predict what will happen in the Martian atmosphere and how the engines should be designed and controlled for the crew’s success and safety, researchers need to investigate unsteady and turbulent flows across length and time scales—from centimeters to kilometers and from fractions of a second to minutes.

    To accurately replicate these faraway conditions, the team must model the large dimensions of the lander and its engines, the local atmospheric conditions, and the conditions of the engines along the descent trajectory.

    On Summit, the team is modeling the lander at multiple points in its 6- to 7-minute descent. To characterize the flow behaviors across speeds ranging from supersonic to subsonic, researchers run ensembles (suites of individual simulations) to resolve fluid dynamics at a resolution of up to 10 billion elements with as much as 200 terabytes of information stored per run.

    “One of the primary benefits of Summit for us is the sheer speed of the machine,” Nielsen said.

    Celestial speed

    Nielsen’s team spent several years optimizing FUN3D—a code that has advanced aerodynamic modeling for several decades—for new GPU technology using CUDA, a programming platform that serves as an intermediary between GPUs and traditional programming languages like C++.

    By leveraging the speed of Summit’s GPUs, Nielsen’s team reports a 35-times increase in performance per compute node.

    “We would typically wait 5 to 6 months to get an equivalent answer using CPU technology in a capacity environment, meaning lots of smaller runs. On Summit, we’re getting those answers in about 4 to 5 days,” he said. “Moreover, Summit enables us to perform 5 or 6 such simulations simultaneously, ultimately reducing turnaround time from 2 or 3 years to a work week.”

    The research team includes visualization specialists at NASA’s Ames Research Center, who take the quantitative data and transform it into an action shot of what is happening.

    “The visualization is a big takeaway from the Summit capability, which has enabled us to capture very small flow structures as well as really large flow structures,” Korzun said. “I can see what is happening right at the rocket engine nozzle exit, as well as tens of meters ahead in the direction the vehicle is traveling.”

    As the team members continue to collect new Summit data, they are thinking about the next steps to designing a human exploration vehicle for Mars.

    “Even though we are returning to the Moon, NASA’s long-term objective is the human exploration of the surface of Mars. These results are informing testing, such as wind tunnel testing, that we’ll be doing in the next couple of years,” Korzun said. “So this data will be useful for a very long time.”

    See the full article here .


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    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

    “We report on all aspects of distributed computing technology, such as grids and clouds. We also regularly feature articles on distributed computing-enabled research in a large variety of disciplines, including physics, biology, sociology, earth sciences, archaeology, medicine, disaster management, crime, and art. (Note that we do not cover stories that are purely about commercial technology.)

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  • richardmitnick 9:19 am on September 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mars Exploration, , Pilbara's ancient rocks,   

    From University of New South Wales: “NASA and European Space Agency join UNSW in outback for training crucial for Mars 2020 missions” 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    NASA

    ESA

    02 Sep 2019
    Isabelle Dubach / Jane Garcia

    UNSW scientists have shown a group of Mars specialists the secrets of the remote Pilbara’s ancient rocks – all in preparation for NASA’s and ESA’s Mars 2020 missions.

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ExoMars rover

    1
    The oldest, best-preserved evidence of life is contained in the Pilbara’s ancient rocks.

    NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists have spent a week in the remote outback of Australia, joining UNSW Sydney’s Australian Centre for Astrobiology Director Martin Van Kranendonk for specialist training in identifying signs of life in ancient rocks.

    The trip served as preparation for NASA’s and ESA’s Mars 2020 missions, which are designed specifically to search for past life in rocks that are as old as those of the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia, where the field trip was held.

    The oldest, best-preserved evidence of life is contained in these ancient rocks – a perfect stand-in for the desolate rocky landscapes of the planet Mars. The rocks at this secret site in the Pilbara are roughly the same age as those on the red planet: three-and-a-half billion years old.

    “It’s remarkable that the history hidden in the fossil record of ancient rocks from Australia’s Pilbara region will be vital for answering the question – is there life on Mars?,” says Professor Van Kranendonk.

    The really important contribution of this trip was to give the scientists an idea of the importance of geological context in searching for signs of ancient life, and when deciding what specific samples to collect for analysis on Mars, and for sample return to Earth.

    “We were able to investigate signs of life’s earliest footholds in a variety of geological environments and then had extensive group conversations about not only what to sample, but how to sample to maximise the possibility of mission success,” says Professor Van Kranendonk.

    It is unique that the group was able to do this investigation directly on the ancient rocks, and collectively with scientists from both missions.

    “A really exciting outcome was the enthusiasm that the Mars scientists had coming away from the outcrops and thinking of how the textures they had seen would apply to their own missions,” he says.

    “Even more important was the collective realisation that life got started early on our planet, under similar conditions as what we know was happening on Mars at that time, enhancing the prospect for major discoveries during these two upcoming missions.”

    2
    The scientists’ camp in the outback

    Preparing for Mars

    The team of UNSW and other Australian and international scientists, led by Professor Van Kranendonk, have conducted research in the area for decades, following the discovery of ancient life traces there in 1980.

    This was the first time that Van Kranendonk has shared the region’s insights with a dedicated team of Mars specialists – a group including the Heads of NASA and ESA Mars 2020 missions and many of the leads of the science instruments being flown on the 2020 missions.

    ESA’s ExoMars2020 mission will visit a vast plain with sedimentary rocks that they will drill to sample for signs of microbial life. NASA’s Mars2020 rover mission will visit a previously unexplored region of Mars with a delta succession thought to have offered favourable conditions in which to search for signs of past life. It will also collect and cache samples for potential return to Earth, where they will be analysed in the laboratory.

    NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Director, James Watzin, saw his frst stromatolite on this trip.

    “After this experience, I now understand the importance of geological context in the search for life on Mars,” he says.

    “Seeing the ancient stromatolites of Western Australia, and discussing with NASA and ESA colleagues how we might look for and sample possibly similar rocks on Mars, was tremendously useful as we prepare for our rovers’ arrival on Mars about 18 months from now,” added Ken Farley, project scientist, Mars 2020 from Caltech.

    ExoMars2020 Principle Investigtor for CLUPI (the Close-up Imager), Jean-Luc Josset, says the trip was a wonderful experience.

    “It was great to see these ancient rocks of Earth and to view the early traces of life with the perspective of how to use my instrument on ExoMars.”

    “It is deeply satisfying that Australia’s ancient rocks and our scientific know-how is making such a significant contribution to our search for extra-terrestrial life and unlocking the secrets of Mars,” says Professor Van Kranendonk.

    3
    NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists have spent a week in the remote outback of Australia.

    See the full article here .


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    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on August 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "'Rosalind Franklin' Mars rover assembly completed", Airbus' facility in Stevenage, , , , , , Called "Rosalind Franklin" after the British DNA pioneer the six-wheeled robot will search for life on Mars., China and the US are preparing their own rovers for launch in the same departure window as Rosalind Franklin., China's vehicle dubbed XH-1 is a slightly smaller concept., , Development work at component and instrument level has consumed more than a decade., , It is an eight-month cruise to Mars with the landing on an ancient equatorial plain targeted for 19 March 2021., Lift-off atop a Proton rocket is scheduled for July 2020., Mars Exploration, , , The new rover follows the design template of the Curiosity robot which landed on Mars in 2012., The Rosalind Franklin rover carries a drill to collect samples from below the Martian surface., The UK made the rover a centrepiece of its space science policy.   

    From BBC: “‘Rosalind Franklin’ Mars rover assembly completed” 

    BBC
    From BBC

    27 August 2019
    Jonathan Amos

    Assembly of the rover Europe and Russia plan to send to the Red Planet next year is complete.

    10
    The rover is named after the British scientist who helped decipher the structure of DNA. MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

    Engineers at Airbus in Stevenage, UK, displayed the finished vehicle on Tuesday ahead of its shipment to France for testing.

    Called “Rosalind Franklin” after the British DNA pioneer, the six-wheeled robot will search for life on Mars.

    It has a drill to burrow 2m below ground to try to detect the presence of microbes, either living or fossilised.

    The project is a joint endeavour of the European and Russian space agencies (ESA and Roscosmos), with input from the Canadians and the US.

    2
    The UK made the rover a centrepiece of its space science policy.

    4
    The Rosalind Franklin rover is nearing completion at Airbus’ facility in Stevenage. EMMA UNDERWOOD/Airbus

    3
    The Rosalind Franklin rover carries a drill to collect samples from below the Martian surface. ESA.

    5
    Kazachok lander: The rover needs a means to get it safely to the surface of Mars. TAS.

    6
    American rovers have established that Mars was certainly habitable – but was it inhabited? NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS [Malin Space Science Systems].

    7
    Jezero Crater shows strong evidence from orbit of past water activity. NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/BROWN UNIVERSITY

    8
    The new rover follows the design template of the Curiosity robot which landed on Mars in 2012. NASA.

    Although the rover’s build took just nine months, development work at component and instrument level has consumed more than a decade (the initial feasibility study was started in 2004).

    Lift-off atop a Proton rocket is scheduled for July 2020. It is an eight-month cruise to Mars, with the landing on an ancient equatorial plain targeted for 19 March, 2021, around 0600 local Mars time.

    China and the US are preparing their own rovers for launch in the same departure window as Rosalind Franklin.

    China’s vehicle, dubbed XH-1, is a slightly smaller concept. The Americans are assembling a near-copy of the one-tonne Curiosity robot that has been investigating the Red Planet for the past seven years. Their machine is codenamed currently simply Mars 2020.

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    The roughly 300kg Rosalind Franklin rover is being bagged and boxed, ready to be sent to an Airbus facility in Toulouse this week. It’s in southwest France that a series of checks will ensure the robot can withstand the rigours of interplanetary travel and operation.

    There are actually three outstanding items yet to be integrated on the rover.

    These are the radioisotope heaters that will keep the vehicle warm in the bitter conditions on Mars. But they are a Russian expertise and will not be inserted until just prior to blast-off.

    In parallel with the work on the rover, engineers in Italy at the Thales Alenia Space (TAS) company are preparing the mechanisms required to get the rover safely to, and on to, Mars.

    In Turin on Wednesday, the German cruise spacecraft that will shepherd the robot to the Red Planet, and the Russian descent module, which will protect it as it enters Mars’ atmosphere, will have their first fit-check.

    Eventually, all elements of the mission will meet in Cannes, at another TAS factory, for end-to-end mating and balancing.

    “When the spacecraft is sent to Mars, it will be spinning. Like the wheels on your car, we have to check the balance to make sure everything spins smoothly,” explained Van Odedra, Airbus rover project manager.

    The entire system should be despatched to the Baikonur launch site in April to begin the process of preparing for the Proton lift-off.

    Rosalind Franklin was “superb scientific tool”, said David Parker, Esa’s director of human and robotic exploration.

    “We still have big challenges ahead but mission success is our number one priority.”

    9
    The rover will travel to Mars inside a capsule attached to a German cruise vehicle. ESA.

    What’s the critical next hurdle?

    Currently, there is concern over the readiness of the parachute system that will slow Rosalind Franklin’s descent through Mars’ atmosphere to the surface.

    Engineers have designed a two-chute system: a smaller supersonic envelope that opens first and a big subsonic membrane that opens once the entry speed has become manageable.

    Two tests earlier this year – on both chute types – led to tearing on deployment.

    Pietro Baglioni, ESA’s ExoMars manager, said the problem appeared to stem from the way the parachutes were packed and then extracted – not from the nature of the material used to fabricate them.

    ESA has called in NASA to help with finding a solution because the American agency saw something similar during the development of the parachute system used on the successful Spirit and Opportunity rovers in 2004.

    Further tests are planned for November and February.

    The November demonstration will see engineers travel to Oregon for the launch of a stratospheric balloon.

    This will drop a dummy mass from 30km in altitude; a mortar will fire the supersonic chute out of its container to simulate a Mars descent.

    Mr Baglioni said the November test had “to show that the implemented corrective measures are at least on the right track. Going for a redesign of the entire parachute system is out of the question for a 2020 launch.”

    A formal “go/no-go” decision on the mission is expected early next year.

    Why is Rosalind Franklin important for the UK?

    Tuesday’s send-off in front of the media was a big moment for the UK, which has made the Mars robot a central feature of its space science policy this past decade.

    Britain has invested in the order of €290m (£260m) in the wider Esa-Roscosmos programme, codenamed ExoMars, that also includes a satellite positioned in orbit around the Red Planet. This satellite will act as the relay to send the rover’s data home and, in the other direction, to feed Rosalind Franklin new commands.

    A further £14m (€16m) of UK public money was also set aside specifically for instrument contributions on both the rover and the satellite.

    UK scientists lead the PanCam (the panoramic camera system on the rover), for example, which will take the pictures that help the robot navigate Mars’ terrain and identify the rocks of greatest interest.

    With Rosalind Franklin now about to depart the country, there’s intense interest in a follow-up.

    Study work at Airbus-Stevenage is already considering the design of a rover that would pick up rock samples cached by Mars 2020 during its mission.

    The aim would be to bring these samples back to Earth for a deeper analysis than is possible on Mars with remote laboratory tools.

    The UK will tell its ESA partners when they gather in Spain in November for a major ministerial meeting that it will invest a substantial sum to secure the lead in building the “fetch rover”, as it has become known.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 1:30 pm on August 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Cameras on Mars 2020 rover confirmed to have perfect vision", Mars Exploration,   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Cameras on Mars 2020 rover confirmed to have perfect vision” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    August 7th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

    1
    The Mars 2020 rover is based off of the highly-successful Mars Science Laboratory rover – Curiosity. Photo Credit: JPL / NASA

    NASA Mars 2020 Rover

    NASA Mars 2020 rover schematic

    Tests conducted on several of the cameras that have been installed on the Mars 2020 rover have confirmed that they have perfect, 20/20 This is one of the more critical aspects of the mission as it will help guide the vision.

    2
    A target board with numerous dots was one of the methods used to test the rover’s cameras. Photo Credit: JPL / NASA

    Scheduled for launch in the summer of 2020, the rover will be equipped with a total of 23 cameras–seven for science, nine for engineering, and seven for entry, descent, and landing. The images they take will play crucial functions, including enabling the rover to capture high-resolution zoom images, take panoramic photos, prevent it from crashing into boulders, and guide its robotic arm.

    “We completed the machine-vision calibration of the forward-facing cameras on the rover,” said Justin Maki, chief engineer for imaging and the imaging scientist for Mars 2020 at JPL. “This measurement is critical for accurate stereo vision, which is an important capability of the vehicle.”

    Last month, mission engineers calibrated the cameras placed at the front of the rover for optimal resolution and accuracy by imaging target boards featuring grids of dots at distances ranging from one to 44 yards (one to 40 meters). The tests were conducted on two navigation cameras or Navcams, four hazard-avoidance cameras or Hazcams, the laser- and spectrometer-equipped Supercam, and two high-resolution multispectral stereoscopic imaging cameras known as Mastcam-Zs.

    4
    The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to begin its journey next year (2020) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Photo Credit: NASA / JPL

    “We tested every camera on the front of the rover chassis and also those mounted on the mast. Characterizing the geometric alignment of all these imagers is important for driving the vehicle on Mars, operating the robotic arm, and accurately targeting the rover’s laser,” explained imaging scientist and chief engineer for imaging Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) via an agency-issued release.

    Accurate stereo vision on the forward-facing cameras is crucial for the rover to successfully do its job, he added. Using software, Mars 2020 will autonomously drive itself on the Martian surface.

    Cameras mounted on the rover’s rear and on the turret of its robotic arm are the next scheduled to undergo calibration testing. The Navcams, which will be placed on the back of the rover, will work in conjunction with the Hazcams to plan the route Mars 2020 will travel, operate its robotic arm for the purpose of drilling and acquiring soil samples, and prevent the rover from getting lost and/or crashing into hazardous obstacles.

    The Navcams will capture panoramic images in 3D while the SuperCam will photograph rocks and soil in a search for evidence of ancient microbial life. Images taken by the Mastcam-Zs will reveal details in rocks and sediment that mission scientists can then analyze as part of an effort to understand the Red Planet’s geological history.

    Mars 2020‘s overall mission is to search for biosignatures or signs that ancient Mars was once habitable for microbial life. The rover will also collect and store numerous soil and rock samples, which it will place in tubes for collection and return to Earth by a future mission.

    If you ever wanted to send your name to Mars, this mission can provide that opportunity. All you have to do is complete this online form before the Sept. 30 deadline.

    If launch occurs on schedule, Mars 2020 is expected to land on the Red Planet’s surface on Feb. 18, 2021.


    Video courtesy of NASA / JPL

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:10 pm on August 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Curiosity rover marks seven years of Martian exploration", Mars Exploration, NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover   

    From Spaceflight Insider: “Curiosity rover marks seven years of Martian exploration” 

    1

    From Spaceflight Insider

    August 9th, 2019
    Laurel Kornfeld

    1
    Curiosity has been on the surface of Mars since August of 2012. Photo Credit: NASA

    Seven years after successfully completing a difficult landing maneuver onto the floor of Mars’ Gale Crater, NASA’s Curiosity rover continues to make pioneering discoveries on the Red Planet.

    The rover landed in Gale Crater on Aug. 5, 2012. This location was chosen after NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) detected signals of clay at the site, a sign that lakes and streams flowed there billions of years ago.

    NASA/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

    Its mission was to determine whether the planet was once habitable for microbial life, before its climate changed from warm and wet to cold and dry.

    Curiosity‘s study of rocks within the 96-mile- (154-km-) wide Gale Crater confirmed it once hosted a network of lakes and streams that could have been habitable for as long as several hundred million years. Over that time, clay minerals were left behind as a result of water interacting with sediment in those lakes and streams.

    To date, the rover has traveled a total of 13 miles (21 km), where it studied a variety of terrains. In 2014, it began to climb Mount Sharp, a 3.4-mile (5.5 km) mountain that rises from the middle of Gale Crater.

    Unlike NASA’s earlier, solar-powered rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004, Curiosity runs on nuclear power via a multimission radioisotope thermoelectric generator (MMRTG), meaning it is far less vulnerable to dust storms, which can prevent solar-powered rovers from recharging, causing them to lose power.

    NASA/Mars Spirit Rover

    NASA Mars Opportunity Rover

    Curiosity has been in an extended mission since its primary mission was completed within one Martian year, which equals approximately two Earth years.

    Early in its travels within Gale Crater, the rover traveled over gravel and pebbles, terrain too small for drilling. Currently in a high-clay content region along Mount Sharp, the rover has since drilled into the crater’s surface 22 times, Although the drill ran into problems on several occasions, mission engineers successfully came up with innovative techniques to work around these problems.

    3
    Curiosity broke two of the raised treads, called grousers, on its left middle wheel in the first quarter of 2017. This included the one seen partially detached on the top of the wheel in this image from the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the rover’s arm. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    Since June of this year, Curiosity has been traversing more complex geological terrains, including “Strathdon,” an area made up of hardened sediment layers. Significantly different from the flatter, thinner layers the rover previously encountered, this region could have been shaped by a combination of both flowing water and wind.

    At an outcrop named “Teal Ridge,” whose features also suggest a complex geological history, Curiosity captured a 360-degree panorama.

    “We’re seeing an evolution in the ancient lake environment recorded in these rocks. It wasn’t just a static lake. It’s helping us move from a simplistic view of Mars going from wet to dry. Instead of a linear process, the history of water was more complicated,” stated Valerie Fox of Caltech, co-lead of Curiosity‘s clay unit campaign.

    The rover is now exploring the clay-rich side of Mount Sharp initially detected by MRO from orbit. Drilled samples there have revealed some of the highest levels of clay minerals Curiosity has found on the Martian surface. However, in a mystery that continues to stump scientists, samples taken from other regions on Mount Sharp, where MRO did not detect large amounts of clay, show similarly high clay levels. One theory is that dust present on the latter, flatter terrain obscured clay signals there far more than it did on the former, which is covered in pebbles.

    Recently, Curiosity detected high levels of methane in some parts of Gale Crater’s atmosphere. On Earth, atmospheric methane is produced largely through biological processes, especially by microbes. But methane can also be produced by geological processes, specifically, interaction between hot water and rock, so the presence of the gas does not amount to proof of life.

    Curiosity has enough power remaining to operate for approximately another seven years and remains in good health.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    SpaceFlight Insider reports on events taking place within the aerospace industry. With our team of writers and photographers, we provide an “insider’s” view of all aspects of space exploration efforts. We go so far as to take their questions directly to those officials within NASA and other space-related organizations. At SpaceFlight Insider, the “insider” is not anyone on our team, but our readers.

    Our team has decades of experience covering the space program and we are focused on providing you with the absolute latest on all things space. SpaceFlight Insider is comprised of individuals located in the United States, Europe, South America and Canada. Most of them are volunteers, hard-working space enthusiasts who freely give their time to share the thrill of space exploration with the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:15 am on May 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Mars Exploration   

    From European Space Agency: “Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    29/05/2019
    Aarhus University

    1

    Part of Aarhus University’s Mars Simulation Laboratory in Denmark, this wind tunnel has been specially designed to simulate the dusty surface of planet Mars.

    Constructed within an 8-m long, 2.5-m wide pressure chamber, the Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel has attracted researchers from all over Europe and the United States, to test instruments and equipment for a wide range of Mars missions, including ESA’s ExoMars and NASA’s Mars 2020 rovers.

    ESA/Roscosmos Rosalind Franklin ExoMars 2015

    NASA Mars Rover 2020

    The air pressure within the wind tunnel can be taken down to less than one hundredth of terrestrial sea level and the temperature reduced to as low as -170°C using liquid nitrogen. Fans then blow the scanty atmosphere that remains at up to 30 m/s, along with Mars-style dust.

    Researchers can evaluate how items such as sensors, solar panels and mechanical parts stand up to the clingy, abrasive particles, sourced from Mars-like, oxide-rich soil found in central Denmark.

    “We’ve been in operation all through this decade,” comments Jonathan Merrison of Aarhus University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, overseeing the facility. “We’re the only wind tunnel that not only reproduces the low pressure and low temperatures of Mars, but also allows the introduction of particulates of sand and dust.

    “Probably about a third of the testing carried out here has been ExoMars related, then there have been users related to other ars missions, as well as industrial testing of high altitude terrestrial equipment.

    “We are also a member of the Europlanet network, a grouping of planetary scientists supported by the European Union, supporting the usage of various planetary simulation facilities and analogues.”

    The Aarhus Mars Simulation Wind Tunnel was based on a smaller, earlier version, which remains in use. Its development was supported by ESA’s Technology Development Element programme for promising new technologies as well as the philanthropic Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

    ESA has demonstrated expertise in studying Mars from orbit, now we are looking to secure a safe landing, to rove across the surface and to drill underground to search for evidence of life. Our orbiters are already in place to provide data relay services for surface missions. The next logical step is to bring samples back to Earth, to provide access to Mars for scientists globally, and to better prepare for future human exploration of the Red Planet. This week we’re highlighting ESA’s contribution to Mars exploration as we ramp up to the launch of our second ExoMars mission, and look beyond to completing a Mars Sample Return mission. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #ExploreFarther

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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