Landers / Rovers

Sloping buttes and layered outcrops within the Murray Buttes (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA published a series of photographs taken by the Mars Rover Curiosity that show the landscape of the Martian area called “Murray Buttes”. Those are very high quality images captured on September 8, 2016 using the Mast Camera (MastCam) instrument, consisting of two cameras able to get among other things photographs in natural colors. The result is a breathtaking view which at the same time is very interesting from the scientific point of view because the photographed stratified rocks show traces of Mars’ geological history.

Some mineral veins in Gale Crater (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

An article published in the journal “Meteoritics & Planetary Science” describes a research on the ancient lake that existed in today’s Gale Crater on Mars. Scientists at the Open University and the University of Leicester used data collected by NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity to understand the old conditions in Gale Crater concluding that the environment was similar to the Earth and in favor of the presence of life forms.

The Mars Rover Curiosity in the area of the Buckskin rock (Photo NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) describes the unexpected discovery of a mineral called tridymite by the Mars Rover Curiosity in Gale Crater on Mars. The analysis of a sample from a rock called Buckskin revealed the presence of tridymite, which on Earth forms as a result of much more intense volcanic activity than that assumed esisted in the past on Mars.

Artist's impression of the Philae lander (Image ESA–J. Huart)

The hopes to be able to contact the lander Philae on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s surface have now faded and ESA is also pessimistic. DLS, the German space agency, runs the LCC (Lander Control Center) and in recent months tried to re-establish contact after Philae communicated for a while on several occasions but issued a statement declaring that it’s time to say goodbye to the lander.