Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Mars Exploration News  


Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















MARSDAILY
Curiosity gets a good taste of scooped, sieved sand
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 25, 2016


This view captures Curiosity's current work area where the rover continues its campaign to study an active sand dune on Mars. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. For a larger version of this image please go here.

At its current location for inspecting an active sand dune, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is adding some sample-processing moves not previously used on Mars. Sand from the second and third samples the rover is scooping from "Namib Dune" will be sorted by grain size with two sieves. The coarser sieve is making its debut, and using it also changes the way the treated sample is dropped into an inlet port for laboratory analysis inside the rover.

Positioning of the rover to grab a bite of the dune posed a challenge, too. Curiosity reached this sampling site, called "Gobabeb," on Jan. 12.

"It was pretty challenging to drive into the sloping sand and then turn on the sand into the position that was the best to study the dunes," said Michael McHenry of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. He is the Curiosity mission's campaign rover planner for collecting these samples.

Curiosity has scooped up sample material at only one other site since it landed on Mars in August 2012. It sampled dust and sand at a windblown drift site called "Rocknest" in October and November 2012. Between there and Gobabeb, the rover collected sample material for analysis at nine rock targets, by drilling rather than scooping.

The mission's current work is the first close-up study of active sand dunes anywhere other than Earth. Namib and nearby mounds of dark sand are part of the "Bagnold Dune Field," which lines the northwestern flank of a layered mountain where Curiosity is examining rock records of ancient environmental conditions on Mars. Investigation of the dunes is providing information about how wind moves and sorts sand particles in conditions with much less atmosphere and less gravity than on Earth.

Sand in dunes has a range of grain sizes and compositions. Sorting by wind will concentrate certain grain sizes and compositions, because composition is related to density, based on where and when the wind has been active.

The Gobabeb site was chosen to include recently formed ripples. Information about these aspects of Mars' modern environment may also aid the mission's interpretation of composition variations and ripple patterns in ancient sandstones that formed from wind or flowing water.

Curiosity scooped its first dune sample on Jan. 14, but the rover probed the dune first by scuffing it with a wheel. "The scuff helped give us confidence we have enough sand where we're scooping that the path of the scoop won't hit the ground under the sand," McHenry said.

That first scoop was processed much as Rocknest samples were: A set of complex moves of a multi-chambered device on the rover's arm passed the material through a sieve that screened out particles bigger than 150 microns (0.006 inch); some of the material that passed the sieve was dropped into laboratory inlet ports from a "portioner" on the device; material blocked by the sieve was dumped onto the ground.

The portioner is positioned directly over an opened inlet port on the deck of the rover to drop a portion into it when the processing device is vibrating and a release door is opened. Besides analyzing samples delivered to its internal laboratory instruments, Curiosity can use other instruments to examine sample material dumped onto the ground.

Curiosity collected its second scoop of Gobabeb on Jan. 19. This is when the coarser sieve came into play. It allows particles up to 1 millimeter (1,000 microns or 0.04 inch) to pass through.

Sand from the second scoop was initially fed to the 150-micron sieve. Material that did not pass through that sieve was then fed to the 1-millimeter sieve. The fraction routed for laboratory analysis is sand grains that did not pass through the finer sieve, but did pass through the coarser one.

"What you have left is predominantly grains that are smaller than 1 millimeter and larger than 150 microns," said JPL's John Michael Morookian, rover planning team lead for Curiosity.

This fraction is dropped into a laboratory inlet by the scoop, rather than the portioner. Morookian decribed this step: "We start the vibration and gradually tilt the scoop. The material flows off the end of the scoop, in more of a stream than all at once."

Curiosity reached the base of Mount Sharp in 2014 after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the layered mountain. On the lower portion of the mountain, the mission is studying how Mars' ancient environment changed from wet conditions favorable for microbial life to harsher, drier conditions.

.


Related Links
Curiosity Mars Rover at JPL
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
MARSDAILY
Rover Rounds Martian Dune to Get to the Other Side
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 06, 2016
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, partway through the first up-close study ever conducted of extraterrestrial sand dunes, is providing dramatic views of a dune's steep face, where cascading sand has sculpted very different textures than the wavy ripples visible on the dune's windward slope. Researchers are using Curiosity to examine examples of the Bagnold Dunes, a band of dark sand dunes linin ... read more


MARSDAILY
Russia postpones manned Lunar mission to 2035

Audi joins Google Lunar XPrize competition

Lunar mission moves a step closer

Momentum builds for creation of 'moon villages'

MARSDAILY
China aims for the Moon with new rockets

China shoots for first landing on far side of the moon

Chinese Long March 3B to launch Belintersat-1 telco sat for Belarus

China Plans More Than 20 Space Launches in 2016

MARSDAILY
Japanese astronaut learned Russian to link two nations

NASA, Texas Instruments Launch mISSion imaginaTIon

Water in US astronaut's helmet cuts short Briton's 1st spacewalk

Roscosmos prepares to launch first manned Soyuz MS

MARSDAILY
The Voyage of a Lifetime: New Horizons Marks 10 Years Since Launch

'Ninth planet' may exist in solar system: US scientists

Predicting planets: The highs and lows

Caltech researchers find evidence of a real ninth planet

MARSDAILY
A Triple Play Out Saturn Way

Cassini Completes Final Close Enceladus Flyby

Cassini Closes in on Enceladus, One Last Time

Cassini gets bull's eye view of Enceladus and Tethys

MARSDAILY
SpaceX launches US-French oceans satellite

Flooding along the Mississippi seen from space

Fires burning in Africa and Asia cause high ozone in tropical Pacific

Satellites find sustainable energy in cities

MARSDAILY
Engineers Mark Completion of Orion's Pressure Vessel

2016 Goals Vital to Commercial Crew Success

Space: The here-and-now frontier

Russian Space Agency discussing possible training of Iranian astronaut

MARSDAILY
Follow A Live Planet Hunt

Lab discovery gives glimpse of conditions found on other planets

Nearby star hosts closest alien planet in the 'habitable zone'

ALMA reveals planetary construction sites




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.