Landers / Rovers

Blogs about landers and rovers

Mars

NASA has activated all the possibilities of close study of the global dust storm that is affecting the planet Mars. This type of event usually occurs once every three or four Martian years (between six and eight Earth’s years) but it is still unclear how a dust storm that starts on a small scale can grow to the point of enveloping the entire planet. Space probes in orbit are studying the phenomenon in various ways and the Mars Rover Curiosity is collecting data on the ground while the situation of the Mars Rover Opportunity is difficult because it can’t use its solar panels so it went into hibernation.

The Mars Rover Curiosity and two elements found (Image NASA/GSFC)

In a press conference, NASA announced the latest discoveries on the planet Mars obtained thanks to the analyzes carried out by the Mars Rover Curiosity. In some new samples taken at two sites of Gale Crater, various organic compounds were detected. The methane measurements in Mars atmosphere indicate a seasonal cycle in which its amount varies. These findings have been described in detail in two articles published in the journal “Science”.

The InSight lander and the MarCO nanosatellites blasting off atop an Atlas V 401 rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago NASA’s InSight lander was launched together with the two Mars Cube One nanosatellites from the Vandenberg base on an Atlas V 401 rocket. After about 1.5 hours they separated from the rocket’s last stage, called Centaur, and went en route to Mars.

The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission aims to investigate the geology of the planet Mars. A lander equipped with a seismometer, a thermal sensor and other instruments that will analyze the red planet’s internal structure. This will allow to obtain new data on its formation, also contributing to the existing models on the formation of rocky planets such as the Earth.

Part of Perseverance Valley (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has published new photos taken by its venerable Mars Rover Opportunity, which after 14 Earth years and 5,000 Sols – Martian days – continues its scientific mission on the planet Mars. In the ancient valley called Perseverance Valley it found a soil with a texture that resembles certain very particular rock strips on some mountain slopes on the Earth. These formations can be created by cycles of freezing and thawing of moist soil or wind, downhill transport or other processes.

The Jura rock (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA has published photographs of star-shaped and swallowtail rock formations discovered by the Mars Rover Curiosity during the exploration of the area of Gale Crater on Mars called Vera Rubin Ridge. This ridge is offering interesting research cues, in this case gypsum crystals similar to those found in lakes that dried up on Earth, for example in Scotland. This is another clue of the fact that in Gale Crater in ancient times there was a lake.