Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Mars Exploration News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Sandy Selfie Sent from NASA Mars Rover
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 31, 2016

This Jan. 19, 2016, self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle at "Namib Dune," where the rover's activities included scuffing into the dune with a wheel and scooping samples of sand for laboratory analysis. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The latest self-portrait from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows the car-size mobile laboratory beside a dark dune where it has been scooping and sieving samples of sand.

The new selfie combines 57 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of Curiosity's arm on Jan. 19. The rover has been investigating a group of active sand dunes for two months, studying how the wind moves and sorts sand particles on Mars. The site is part of Bagnold Dune Field, which lines the northwestern flank of Mars' Mount Sharp.

When the component images were taken, the rover had scuffed the edge of "Namib Dune" and collected the first of three scoops of sand from that dune. It used its scoop later to collect a second sample on Jan. 19, and a third on Jan. 22.

During processing of the third sample, an actuator in the sample-processing device did not perform as expected when commanded. This week, the Curiosity team is identifying possible reasons for the actuator's performance.

The processing device on the arm is named CHIMRA, for Collection and Handling for In-situ Martian Rock Analysis. The component that was commanded to open, but did not, is called the CHIMRA tunnel. It is opened by using the thwack actuator, a motorized component that also can deliver a firm tap to help clean sample material from a nearby sieve. Part of the third scooped sample is inside the CHIMRA tunnel after passing through a sieve. If the tunnel had opened via the thwack actuator as planned, the next step would have been to take an image of the sand inside it.

"The rover responded properly to this unexpected event," said Steve Lee, deputy project manager for Curiosity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "It stopped moving the actuator and halted further use of the arm and sampling system."

While diagnostic work progresses, the team also is continuing to use the remote-sensing instruments on Curiosity's mast and environmental monitoring instruments. One part of the dune investigation is to view the same location repeatedly to check for movement of sand grains caused by wind on Mars. If movement occurs, the team can use the rover's wind measurements to figure out the strength and direction of the winds that caused the movement.

On the second scoop from Namib Dune, Curiosity successfully used two different sieves in CHIMRA to prepare a portion for analysis. This two-sieve procedure had not been used previously in the rover's three-and-a-half years on Mars.

The resulting portion was made up of sand grains large enough to be held back by a sieve with pores of 150 microns (0.006 inch) and small enough to pass through a sieve with pores of 1 millimeter (1,000 microns or 0.04 inch). This intermediate-grain-size portion was delivered to the rover's internal chemistry-analysis laboratory.

The third scoop was to have been processed the same way, but the science team decided this week that the portion delivered from the second scoop will suffice. When the rover drives on after diagnostic work on CHIMRA, it will have finished its investigations at Namib Dune. The mission's examination of active sand dunes - the first ever studied up close other than on Earth - is providing information about active dune processes in conditions with much less atmosphere and less gravity than on Earth.

Researchers are evaluating possible sites for the next use of Curosity's drill to collect rock-powder samples of the bedrock in the area.

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.

A full size version of image is available is online here


Related Links
Mars Science Lab
Mars News and Information at
Lunar Dreams and more

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

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Curiosity gets a good taste of scooped, sieved sand
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jan 25, 2016
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 ... read more

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'

Last Launch for Long March 2F/G

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

Russian Cosmonauts to Attach Thermal Insulation to ISS

Astronaut Scott Kelly plays ping pong with water

Japanese astronaut learned Russian to link two nations

NASA, Texas Instruments Launch mISSion imaginaTIon

Charon's Night Side

Predicting planets: The highs and lows

Caltech researchers find evidence of a real ninth planet

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

Cassini Heads for 'Higher Ground' at Saturn

A Triple Play Out Saturn Way

Cassini Completes Final Close Enceladus Flyby

Cassini Closes in on Enceladus, One Last Time

NASA Takes Part in Airborne Study of Southern Ocean

Russia to launch Resurs-P satellite on March 12

ESA selects Airbus Defence and Space for two new Sentinel-2 satellites

DigitalGlobe Receives Early Commitments for WorldView-4 Satellite Capacity

Challenger disaster at 30: Did the tragedy change NASA for the better?

Innovations in the Air

Astronaut rescue exercise proves Det. 3 command, control ready to support DoD, NASA

Voyager Mission Celebrates 30 Years Since Uranus

Astronomers discover largest solar system

Lonely Planet Finds a Mum a Trillion Km Away

Follow A Live Planet Hunt

Lab discovery gives glimpse of conditions found on other planets

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.