Friday, August 31, 2012

Postcards From Mars

from NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, used w/o permission"...This image is a portion of a larger image taken by Curiosity's 100-millimeter Mast Camera on Aug. 23, 2012. See PIA16104. Scientists enhanced the color in one version to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain...."

Next, a closer look at the center of that photo.

from NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, used w/o permission"...For scale, an annotated version of the figure highlights a dark rock that is approximately the same size as Curiosity. The pointy mound in the center of the image, looming above the rover-sized rock, is about 1,000 feet (300 meters) across and 300 feet (100 meters) high."

Mount Sharp: Oddly-Tilted Layers

Scientists figured the terrain in Gale Crater would be interesting. They probably didn't expect anything quite this odd, though:

(from NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, used w/o permission)
"This image taken by the Mast Camera (MastCam) on NASA's Curiosity rover highlights the interesting geology of Mount Sharp, a mountain inside Gale Crater, where the rover landed.... "
What's intriguing about this photo are the strata - more-or-less horizontal layers on the face of Mount Sharp. What's unusual about this set of layers is that the upper ones are tilted quite a bit more than the ones underneath. the dividing line between those two zones runs roughly across the middle of the photo.

Strata being at different angles isn't at all unusual here on Earth - it has to do with plate tectonics, according to a fellow in a NASA news conference. But around here, it's normal for the upper set of layers to be much more horizontal than the lower ones: the opposite of what's happened on Mars.

Voicemail From Mars

"First Recorded Voice from Mars"
Mission News, NASA (August 27, 2012)

"The following statement by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was returned to Earth via the Mars Curiosity rover.

"Hello. This is Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator, speaking to you via the broadcast capabilities of the Curiosity Rover, which is now on the surface of Mars.

"Since the beginning of time, humankind’s curiosity has led us to constantly seek new life…new possibilities just beyond the horizon. I want to congratulate the men and women of our NASA family as well as our commercial and government partners around the world, for taking us a step beyond to Mars...."

We've had the technology for sound transmissions from Mars for more than a decade. Still, Administrator Bloden's speech was a 'first.'

As of today, you can still see this video in "Interplanetary Voicemail," on NASA's website. In case NASA reorganizes their site before you see this post, here's a low-resolution version:

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
California Institute of Technology (August 27, 2012)
video, 1:33 (file size: about 10.8 MB)

The server for the low-res. version is nowhere near as fast as NASA's, so the file may take quite a few minutes to load.

Sounds of Mars - Maybe Next Time

The Mars planning FAQ page says that Curiosity doesn't carry a microphone, so we won't be hearing 'live from Mars' broadcasts. This time.

A late-20th-century Mars expedition carried a microphone. Signals from Mars Polar Lander ended on December 3, 1999, on its way down to the Martian surface:
Related posts:

1 comment:

devidmark said...

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