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NASA’s Curiosity rover snapped the fascinating view on Dec. 5. Planetary geologist and Curiosity team member Susanne Schwenzer described the nodule-like rocks as “little round items” in a rover mission update on Monday.
Schwenzer suggested the smooth shapes “could be due to diagenesis or more generally water-rock interaction.” Diagenesis refers to the alteration processes that occur after sediment is deposited. Curiosity has been investigating a clay-rich area of Mars. Data gathered there is helping scientists delve into the history of water on Mars.
If you’re trying to figure out the scale here, think tiny. The ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager is capable of taking super-close-up images. The ChemCam team analyzes soil and rock composition and investigates weathering processes.
In this new study using MAVEN/IUVS data from multiple Mars years, the team has found that periods of increased atmospheric escape correspond with increases in proton aurora occurrence and intensity," said Andréa Hughes of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Hughes is lead author of a paper on this research published December 12 in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Space Physics. "Perhaps one day, when interplanetary travel becomes commonplace, travelers arriving at Mars during southern summer will have front-row seats to observe Martian proton aurora majestically dancing across the dayside of the planet (while wearing ultraviolet-sensitive goggles, of course).
These travelers will witness firsthand the final stages of Mars losing the remainder of its water to space." Hughes is presenting the research on December 12 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Arcadia Planitia, a flat region shaped by ancient lava flows, may fit the bill, according to a study published on Monday in Geophysical Research Letters. This area contains abundant deposits of shallow ice just below the Martian surface, which would enable astronauts to easily harvest their own water instead of lugging it over from Earth. The ice is so close to the surface that astronauts could get to it with hand tools, if they needed to.
“It’s just so complicated to bring anything from Earth,” said lead author Sylvain Piqueux, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a call. “If you don’t have to bring your own water, you’re saving yourself a ton of money, space, and mass on your spacecraft and you can bring, instead, more interesting scientific instruments.”
Global wind patterns on Mars have been mapped for the first time by scientists who have been studying the Red Planet's upper atmosphere.
The team had to remotely re-program NASA's MAVEN spacecraft which has been in orbit around Mars since 2013 in order to capture the data needed for the study.
Researchers from the University of Maryland Baltimore measured the atmosphere for two days per month over the course of two years from 2016 to 2018.
They found that the circulation patterns of the winds in the upper atmosphere were vary stable from season to season but that wasn't the case for shorter-term winds.
This rainbow-colored map shows underground water ice on Mars. Cool colors represent less than one foot (30 centimeters) below the surface; warm colors are over two feet (60 centimeters) deep. Sprawling black zones on the map represent areas where a landing spacecraft would sink into fine dust. The outlined box represents the ideal region to send astronauts for them to be able to dig up water ice.
The map was created by combining data from multiple NASA orbiters, including the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and its Mars Climate Sounder instrument; Mars Odyssey and its Thermal Emission Imaging System; and the Mars Global Surveyor.