Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS; Digital processing: Damia Bouic
An important threshold on Mars has now been crossed. Landing in mid-2012, the Curiosity rover is searching for clues of whether life could ever have existed on the red planet. Recent findings of Curiosity include evidence for an ancient (but now dried) freshwater lake, and the non-detection of the biomarker methane in the Martian atmosphere. To continue its investigation, the car-sized rover is on an expedition to roll up Mt. Sharp, the central peak of the large crater in which it landed. Life might have shown preference for water that once ran down the Martian mountain. Two weeks ago, to avoid more dangerous and rocky terrain, Curiosity was directed to roll across a one-meter high sand dune that blocked a useful entrance to Mt. Sharp. Just after the short trip over Dingo Gap was successful, the robotic rover took the above image showing the now-traversed sand mound covered with its wheel tracks.
NASA APOD 18-feb-2014
Image Credit: CNSA, Chinanews, Kenneth Kremer & Marco Di Lorenzo
Where has the Yutu rover been on the Moon? Arriving in 2013 mid-December, the Chinese Yutu robotic rover has spent some of the past month and a half exploring Mare Imbrium on Earth’s Moon. Because it uses solar power, the mechanical Jade Rabbit goes into sleep mode to endure the two-week long lunar night. Pictured above is a digitally created time-lapse composite panorama showing the region surrounding the Chang’e 3 lander, capturing the desk-sized rover in three positions. On the far right, Yutu is seen heading south to investigate greener pastures, likely never to return to its lander again.
NASA APOD 03-Feb-2014
Image Credit: Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Cornell, JPL, NASAExplanation:
What if a rock that looked like a jelly donut suddenly appeared on Mars? That’s just what happened in front of the robotic Opportunity rover currently exploring the red planet. The unexpectedly placed rock,pictured above, was imaged recently by Opportunity after not
appearing in other images taken as recently as twelve Martian days (sols) before. Given the intriguing mystery, the leading explanation is somewhat tame — the rock was recently scattered by one of the rover’s tires. Even so, the rock’s unusual light tones surrounding a red interior created interest in its composition — as well as causing it to be nicknamed Jelly Donut. A subsequent chemical analysis showed the rock has twice the abundance of manganese than any other rock yet examined — an unexpected clue that doesn’t yet fit into humanity’s understanding of the Martian geologic history.Opportunity, just passing its 10-year anniversary on Mars, continues to explore the Murray Ridge section of the rim of 22-kilometer wide Endeavor Crater.
NASA APOD 29-Jan-2014