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Tag: Curiosity

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover senses methane spike

Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover senses methane spike

Science
The American space agency's Mars rover Curiosity has recorded its largest measurement yet of methane.The robot frequently "sniffs" the Red Planet for the gas but has never before seen so high a concentration - of 21 parts per billion (ppb).The observations are fascinating because on Earth, methane is produced in large part by living things.That's not necessarily the case on Mars; geological processes are very capable of making it as well.Nonetheless, the latest data will heighten interest in the topic.Through the course of its mission, Curiosity has noticed a number of spikes in methane, and it senses a background level that appears to have a seasonal pattern to it.But although the robot's big onboard chemistry lab - the Sample A...
NASA’s Curiosity rover locates a whole lot of clay on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover locates a whole lot of clay on Mars

Science
May 30 (UPI) -- Scientists sent NASA's Curiosity rover looking for clay, and according to the latest mission update, the spacecraft obliged. It turns out, the target region known as the "clay-bearing unit" boasts a whole lot of clay. Curiosity recently analyzed a pair of freshly drilled rock samples, dubbed "Aberlady" and "Kilmarie." The samples were tested using the rover's mineralogy instrument, called CheMin. The test results revealed the highest concentration of clay minerals yet measured in rock samples collected by Curiosity. Because clay often forms in water, finding and studying clay deposits on Mars could help better explain the Red Planet's watery past, as well as the potential for Mars to host extraterrestrial life. The confirmed presence of large amounts of clay in Gale Crate...
Curiosity rover shares new selfie from the surface of Mars

Curiosity rover shares new selfie from the surface of Mars

Science
Jan. 29 (UPI) -- With the government shutdown over, NASA is once again sharing selfie photographs snapped by the space agency's Martian rover Curiosity. "We're sorry, but we will not be posting updates to this blog during the government shutdown," officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory posted to the mission blog. This week, NASA scientists confirmed Curiosity has taken its last selfie on Vera Rubin Ridge and is now making its way down the slope Mount Sharp's clay region. The rover has spent more than year on the ridge, sampling the soil and documenting various geological features. NASA scientists were initially drawn to the ridge by the strong hematite signal, a mineral that forms in water. Data collected on the ridge has helped scientists better understand how so many different ro...
Curiosity rover sees seasonal Mars methane swing

Curiosity rover sees seasonal Mars methane swing

Science
It may only be a very small part of Mars' atmosphere but methane waxes and wanes with the seasons, scientists say. The discovery made by the Curiosity rover is important because it helps narrow the likely sources of the gas. On Earth, those sources largely involve biological emissions - from wetlands, paddy fields, livestock and the like. No-one can yet tie a life signature to Mars' methane, but the nature of its seasonal behaviour probably rules out some geological explanations for it. "For the first time in the history of Mars methane measurements, we have something that's repeatable," said Dr Chris Webster, a US space agency (Nasa) scientist working on Curiosity. "It's like trying to find a fault on your car. If it's intermit...
NASA engineers teach Mars rover Curiosity to drill again

NASA engineers teach Mars rover Curiosity to drill again

Science
May 18 (UPI) -- Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are preparing to add percussion to an improvised drill technique already being used by the Curiosity rover on Mars. Curiosity and its drill haven't had a full range of motion since 2016 when one of the drill's motors short circuited. Over the last year, engineers have developed a workaround drilling technique called Feed Extended Drilling, or FED, which uses the rover's robotic arm to direct and push the drill into the ground as the drill bit spins. In February, Curiosity used the FED technique to once again drill into the Martian surface. The effort failed to yield a rock sample, but it was still a partial success, producing data that allowed scientists to fine-tune the method back in the lab. Now, engineers are preparing to ...