Mars InSight Lander Seen in First Images from Space

NASA’s InSight spacecraft, its heat shield and its parachute were imaged on Dec. 6 and 11 by the HiRISE camera onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On Nov. 26, NASA’s InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight’s exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

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How We Will Know When InSight Touches Down on Mars

This image depicts the MarCO CubeSats relaying data from NASA’s InSight lander as it enters the Martian atmosphere. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — What’s the sound of a touchdown on Mars?

If you’re at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it sounds like winning the Super Bowl: cheers, laughter and lots of hollering.

But in the minutes before that, NASA’s InSight team will be monitoring the Mars lander’s radio signals using a variety of spacecraft — and even radio telescopes here on Earth — to suss out what’s happening 91 million miles (146 million km) away.

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ESA Completes Inquiry into ExoMars Schiaparelli Failure

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imaged the ExoMars Schiaparelli module’s landing site on 25 October 2016, following the module’s arrival at Mars on 19 October. The zoomed insets provide close-up views of what are thought to be several different hardware components associated with the module’s descent to the martian surface. These are interpreted as the front heatshield, the parachute and the rear heatshield to which the parachute is still attached, and the impact site of the module itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.

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View of ESA Mars Probe on Surface

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of Schiaparelli landing site. (Credit: NASA)
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of Schiaparelli landing site. (Credit: NASA)

DARMSTADT, Germany, 21 October 2016 (ESA PR) — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to ESA’s ExoMars Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing technology demonstrator module.

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NASA Lets Public Select Photo Targets on Mars

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NASA MISSION UPDATE

The most powerful camera aboard a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars will soon be taking photo suggestions from the public.

Since arriving at Mars in 2006, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has recorded nearly 13,000 observations of the Red Planet’s terrain. Each image covers dozens of square miles and reveal details as small as a desk. Now, anyone can nominate sites for pictures.

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NASA Mars Orbiter Spots Ice From Meteorite Impacts

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NASA MISSION UPDATE

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed frozen water hiding just below the surface of mid-latitude Mars. The spacecraft’s observations were obtained from orbit after meteorites excavated fresh craters on the Red Planet.

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Cool Image of the Week: Victoria Crater on Mars

 This image of Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at more of a sideways angle than earlier orbital images of this crater.
This image of Victoria Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at more of a sideways angle than earlier orbital images of this crater.

TUCSON, Ariz. — The high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned a dramatic oblique view of the Martian crater that a rover explored for two years.

The new view of Victoria Crater shows layers on steep crater walls, difficult to see from straight overhead, plus wheel tracks left by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between September 2006 and August 2008.

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NASA Orbiter Finds Martian Rock Record With 10 Beats to the Bar

NASA PRESS RELEASE

Climate cycles persisting for millions of years on ancient Mars left a record of rhythmic patterns in thick stacks of sedimentary rock layers, revealed in three-dimensional detail by a telescopic camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Researchers using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera report the first measurement of a periodic signal in the rocks of Mars. This pushes climate-cycle fingerprints much earlier in Mars’ history than more recent rhythms seen in Martian ice layers. It also may rekindle debates about some patterns of rock layering on Earth.

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Ice on Mars?! Who’d Have Thunk It?

NASA MISSION UPDATE

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed vast Martian glaciers of water ice under protective blankets of rocky debris at much lower latitudes than any ice previously identified on the Red Planet.

Scientists analyzed data from the spacecraft’s ground-penetrating radar and report in the Nov. 21 issue of the journal Science that buried glaciers extend for dozens of miles from edges of mountains or cliffs. A layer of rocky debris blanketing the ice may have preserved the underground glaciers as remnants from an ice sheet that covered middle latitudes during a past ice age. This discovery is similar to massive ice glaciers that have been detected under rocky coverings in Antarctica.

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Spectacular New Images of Mars Released

University of Arizona Communications

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, has returned more than 8,214 gigapixel-size images of the Martian surface since the start of the science phase of the mission in November 2006.

HiRISE scientists released 1,005 observations of Mars made between April 26 and July 21 to NASA’s mission data archive, called the Planetary Data System, and also to the public last week.

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Mars Glaciers Bolster Evidence for Life

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This high-resolution image, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the rock debris that Brown scientists believe was left by a glacier that rose at least one kilometer from the surrounding plain and flowed downward onto the canyon. Photo Credit: NASA

BROWN UNIVERSITY PRESS RELEASE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The prevailing thinking is that Mars is a planet whose active climate has been confined to the distant past. About 3.5 billion years ago, the Red Planet had extensive flowing water and then fell quiet – deadly quiet. It didn’t seem the climate had changed much since.

Now, in a research article that graces the May cover of Geology, scientists at Brown University think Mars’ climate has been much more dynamic than previously believed. After examining stunning high-resolution images taken last year by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers have documented for the first time that ice packs at least 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) thick and perhaps 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) thick existed along Mars’ mid-latitude belt as recently as 100 million years ago. In addition, the team believes other images tell them that glaciers flowed in localized areas in the last 10 to 100 million years – akin to the day before yesterday in Mars’ geological timeline.

This evidence of recent activity means the Martian climate may change again and could bolster speculation about whether the Red Planet can, or did, support life.”We’ve gone from seeing Mars as a dead planet for three-plus billion years to one that has been alive in recent times,” said Jay Dickson, a research analyst in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown and lead author of the Geology paper. “[The finding] has changed our perspective from a planet that has been dry and dead to one that is icy and active.”

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Spacecraft Spots Largest Known Potato in Orbit Around Mars

Phobos moon

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

NASA PRESS RELEASE

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took two images of the larger of Mars’ two moons, Phobos, within 10 minutes of each other on March 23, 2008. This is the first, taken from a distance of about 6,800 kilometers (about 4,200 miles). It is presented in color by combining data from the camera’s blue-green, red, and near-infrared channels.

The illuminated part of Phobos seen in the images is about 21 kilometers (13 miles) across. The most prominent feature in the images is the large crater Stickney in the lower right. With a diameter of 9 kilometers (5.6 miles), it is the largest feature on Phobos.

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Scientists Find Possible Ancient Habitable Lake on Mars

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Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA PRESS RELEASE

Scientists on the HiRISE team have discovered never-before-seen impact “megabreccia” and a possibly once-habitable ancient lake on Mars at a place called Holden crater.

The megabreccia is topped by layers of fine sediments that formed in what apparently was a long-lived, calm lake that filled Holden crater on early Mars, HiRISE scientists say.

“Holden crater has some of the best-exposed lake deposits and ancient megabreccia known on Mars,” said HiRISE’s principal investigator, professor Alfred McEwen of the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. ”Both contain minerals that formed in the presence of water and mark potentially habitable environments. This would be an excellent place to send a rover or sample-return mission to make major advances in understanding if Mars supported life.“

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