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Posts Tagged ‘Mars

Martian Chiaroscuro

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marsHirise
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Deep shadows create dramatic contrasts between light and dark in this high-resolution close-up of the martian surface.

Recorded on January 24 by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scene spans about 1.5 kilometers across a sand dune field in a southern highlands crater. Captured when the Sun was just 5 degrees above the local horizon, only the dune crests are caught in full sunlight. With the long, cold winter approaching the red planet’s southern hemisphere, bright ridges of seasonal frost line the martian dunes.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

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Written by Ed Campbell

March 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Pic of the Day

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140205-coslog-mars2_f9ec3b030a434cae3343f3e901e62790
Click to enlargeNASA/JPL-Caltech/U of Arizona

From the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter…The image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released Wednesday shows a crater about 100 feet in diameter at the center of a radial burst painting the surface with a pattern of bright and dark tones, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported.

The impact that excavated this crater threw some material as far as 9.3 miles, JPL said.

The scar on the Red Planet’s surface appeared some time between imaging of this location by the orbiter’s Context Camera in July 2010 and again in May 2012.

I surely wish I was there. My idea of real adventure travel.

Written by Ed Campbell

February 6, 2014 at 2:00 am

Beautiful photos taken by the Mars Rovers over the last 10 years

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IDL TIFF file
Click to enlargeNASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Ten years ago, when the rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission, engineers expected them to each last 90 Martian days, about three months of Earth time. Spirit lasted a remarkable six years before getting stuck in soft sand, and ultimately losing radio contact with its minders on Earth.

Compared to Opportunity, though, Spirit was a flash in the pan. Hundreds of millions of miles away in the bitter Martian cold, Opportunity has kept on ticking—exploring new areas, taking scientific measurements and capturing beautiful photos—this entire time.

As part of a new exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum, “Spirit and Opportunity: 10 Years Roving Across Mars,” John Grant and other scientists involved with the mission have curated 50 of the most scientifically significant and visually stunning photos taken by the rovers over the years from a collection of several hundred thousand images.

Here are a few of those photos.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

NASA rover reveals Mars was habitable

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NASA scientists say tests on a Mars rock show the planet could have supported primitive life.

At a briefing at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Tuesday, NASA scientist said that an analysis of a Mars rock sample by the Curiosity rover had unveiled minerals, including hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, that are the building blocks of life…

“A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Programme. “From what we know now, the answer is yes…”

The rock sample was drilled from a sedimentary bedrock sample and found to contain clay minerals, sulfate minerals and other chemicals.

Based on the analysis of those chemicals, researchers were able to determine that the water that helped form the rocks were of a relatively neutral pH.

“We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life, that probably if this water was around and you had been there, you would have been able to drink it,” said John Grotzinger, Curiosity project scientist from the California Institute of Technology.

Yes, that does give you a lot to think about. Could there have been a civilization on Mars that succeeded in destroying the ecology – and themselves? Worth reflecting on given the quality of politicians our own species is saddled with.

Written by Ed Campbell

March 13, 2013 at 8:00 am

French beekeepers alarmed over bees producing blue honey

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Beekeepers in northeastern France have been alarmed to find their bees producing honey in unnatural shades of green and blue.

The beekeepers believe the source of the problem is a biogas plant close to Ribeauville in Alsace.

It is thought the bees have been eating the sugary waste from M&Ms

“We discovered the problem at the same time [the beekeepers] did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it,” Philippe Meinrad, a spokesman from Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant…

The company, which deals with waste from a Mars chocolate factory, said it would clean out the containers, store all incoming waste in airtight containers and process it promptly, according to a company statement published in Le Monde newspaper…

A spokeswoman for the British Beekeepers’ Association, Gill Maclean, said it was possible that the coloured sugar could have contaminated the honey…

“Bees are clever enough to know where the best sources of sugar are, if there are no others available,” she said.

The beekeepers say their blue honey is unsellable. Boy, are they wrong. Advertise it on the Web and crazy people like me would buy it. Use it for topping vanilla ice cream or some silly cupcake. Probably could sell the entire inventory to some breakfast chain.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

The surface of Mars — 35 photos

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The base of Mars’ Mount Sharp – the rover’s eventual science destination – is pictured in this August 27, 2012 photo taken by the Curiosity rover. The image is a portion of a larger image taken by Curiosity’s 100-millimeter Mast Camera on August 23. Scientists enhanced the color to show the Martian scene under the lighting conditions we have on Earth, which helps in analyzing the terrain.

Click on the photo to start through the series.

Written by Ed Campbell

October 4, 2012 at 2:00 am

Lincoln on Mars

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I’ve been waiting for NASA’s rover Curiosity to land safely so I can tell you that we now have Lincoln on Mars. Yes, Abraham Lincoln on the Red Planet.

The penny, a 1909 “VDB” penny, is used as a calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument, which is to be used to take extreme close-ups of rocks and soil. The penny, provided by MAHLI’s principal investigator Ken Edgettt, is a nod to geologists’ tradition to place a coin as a size reference in close-up photos of rocks.

Besides the penny, the MAHLI calibration target includes color chips, a metric bar graphic, and a stair-step pattern for depth calibration.

All of which you can see – with the penny mounted – over here.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Written by Ed Campbell

August 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm

New panoramic views from the Mars Rover “Opportunity”

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If you seek a dazzling new image for a MacBook Pro’s Retina screen, look no further…This week NASA released an ultra-high-resolution view of the frigid Martian landscape captured by the only rover currently operating on the red planet.

“The view provides … a spectacularly detailed view of the largest impact crater that we’ve driven to yet,” said planetary scientist Jim Bell of Arizona State University…

The solar-powered, golf-cart-sized rover, called Opportunity, wrapped up exploration of the half-mile-wide Victoria Crater in August 2008. It then rolled for the next three years to reach the 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater….From Dec. 21, 2011 through May 8, 2012, NASA instructed the robot to stay put and take 817 images.

The space agency stitched those photos together to craft a near-wraparound image of Opportunity’s overwintering spot, a rocky outcrop near the 4-billion-year-old Endeavour Crater that scientists named “Greeley Haven.”

Click here to get to the catalog page for the photojournal. There are versions of this photo available up to 23K pixels wide!

Written by Ed Campbell

July 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Milestone: Launch of private rocket heralds new era

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A new era in space exploration dawned Tuesday as a slender rocket shot into the dark Florida sky before sunrise, carrying the first private spacecraft bound for the International Space Station…

The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3:44 a.m., carrying 1,300 pounds of food, clothing and scientific experiments on a demonstration mission to gauge the company’s ability to safely and efficiently deliver supplies to astronauts staffing the orbiting station…

Tuesday’s launch marks the culmination of six years of preparation to bring commercial flights to the space station following the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet last year. It’s backed by entrepreneur Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal…

The rocket launched without a hitch following a flawless countdown that came three days after a faulty valve on one of the rocket’s engines forced a last-second postponement.

At 180 feet tall and 12 feet around, the Falcon 9 rocket is tiny in comparison to the football-field-long Saturn V rockets that carried Apollo spacecraft into orbit. It carries the company’s Dragon cargo capsule capable of carrying 13,228 pounds of supplies into orbit…

The capsule is scheduled to perform a series of maneuvers that should bring it within reach of the space station’s robotic arm on Friday. If NASA gives the go-ahead, the crew will use the arm to attach the capsule to the station and begin unloading supplies, according to SpaceX.

It will remain attached to the station for two weeks before it plummets back into the atmosphere and splashes into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.

Bravo!

Written by Ed Campbell

May 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm

12-mile-high Martian dust devil viewed from Orbiter satellite

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Click on photo for larger image

A Martian dust devil roughly 20 kilometers high was captured winding its way along the Amazonis Planitia region of Northern Mars on March 14, 2012 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Despite its height, the plume is little more than three-quarters of a football field wide – 70 meters.

Would I ever love to be along on a mission to Mars? You betcha!

Thanks, Science Daily

Written by Ed Campbell

April 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

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