Saturday, July 30, 2011

Candor Chasma


Today's VIS image shows a small landslide chute and deposit. This feature is located on the easternmost end of Candor Chasma.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Attractions in the Layers of Gale Crater's Mountain


The lower portion of a mountain inside Gale Crater on Mars contains layers that may be examined by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory. A landing site in Gale, close to the foot of the mountain, has been selected for the mission. The mission will launch during the period November 25 to December 18, 2011 and land the rover Curiosity on Mars in August 2012. Researchers will use tools on Curiosity to study whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life existed.

This view of the mountain in Gale was generated from a three-dimensional model, with the vertical dimension exaggerated three-fold. Information for the model came from a pair of observations by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The scale bar is 1 kilometer (0.6 mile).

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Monday, July 25, 2011

Attractions in Gale Crater for Curiosity to Study


The area in and near the landing site selected for landing of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory offers a diversity of possible targets for examination by the mission's rover, Curiosity.

For scale, the landing target ellipse indicated on this image is 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) by 15.5 miles (25 kilometers).

The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft is being prepared for launch during the period November 25 to December 18, 2011. In a prime mission lasting one Martian year -- nearly two Earth years -- after landing, researchers will use the rover's tools to study whether the landing region has had environmental conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life existed.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Daybreak at Gale Crater


This computer-generated view depicts part of Mars at the boundary between darkness and daylight, with an area including Gale Crater beginning to catch morning light.

Northward is to the left. Gale is the crater with a mound inside it near the center of the image. NASA has selected Gale as the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. The mission's rover will be placed on the ground in a northern portion of Gale crater in August 2012.

Gale crater is 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a layered mountain rising about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor. The intended landing site is at 4.5 degrees south latitude, 137.4 degrees east longitude.

This view was created using three-dimensional information from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, which flew on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. The vertical dimension is not exaggerated. Color information is based on general Mars color characteristics.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ophir Chasma


This VIS image shows a portion of the western margin of Ophir Chasma. Layering can be seen in the upper walls of the canyon.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University

Cemented Fractures in Mountain Inside Gale Crater


One type of feature of scientific interest on the mountain inside Gale crater is exposure of cemented fractures, evidence that groundwater once reached to at least that height of the mountain.

This image of that part of the mountain, taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows symmetry in how material on one side of each fracture is balanced by material on the other side. This pattern indicates that mineral-saturated groundwater once filled the fractures. The water deposited minerals on both sides of the opening, eventually filling the gap.

This observation increases the appeal of Gale crater, which has been selected as the landing site for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Monday, July 18, 2011

Small Mounds in Chryse Planitia


The suggested area in this observation is characterized by a group of cones, shield-like features, and round mounds. They are a few hundred meters to kilometers in diameter but their heights are unknown.

Possible explanations for their formation include sedimentary (mud) volcanism and magmatic volcanism. HiRISE data would be essential for distinguishing these hypotheses.

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Note: This image is located in southern Chryse Planitia, north of the "mouth" of Simud Valles, and about halfway between the landing sites of Viking 1 and Pathfinder.