Some nice new MAHLI and Mastcam images of the rock outcrop Point Lake, taken by Curiosity as it starts its long drive to Mount Sharp. Lots of interesting small holes and nodules. Click images for larger versions. Further analysis should determine whether these rocks are sedimentary or volcanic in origin. All Curiosity raw images are available here.
As announced a while ago, one of the most exciting discoveries by the Curiosity rover on Mars so far has been an apparent ancient streambed which once flowed right through the landing site. Now, additional examination of the evidence confirms that it is what it seemed to be - a very old, now long-dry, riverbed.
This is a cool new photo from Curiosity, showing the rover working doing the martian night. In this image, the LED lights on the rover illuminate the second drill hole in bedrock at the Cumberland drilling site on sol 292 (June 2, 2013). Smaller laser shot holes can also be seen beside the drill hole. It would be nice to see a photo of the entire rover with its lights on too, standing out in the otherwise pitch darkness…
After successfully coming out of solar conjunction late last month, the Curiosity rover has resumed its science activities, beginning with the second drilling into bedrock, it was reported yesterday. This location, a piece of bedrock called “Cumberland,” is only about 2.75 metres (9 feet) west of the first drill site, called “John Klein.”
For any future astronauts who land on Mars, there is one piece of advice that shouldn’t even need to be said: keep your helmet on! Mars has an atmosphere, like Earth, but it is much thinner than ours (and mostly carbon dioxide), and so is unbreathable by humans. However, evidence has continued to grow that Mars’ atmosphere was once a lot thicker than it is now, early on in the planet’s history. Recent findings from the Curiosity rover have added to that evidence, as well as showing not only how Mars has lost most of the atmosphere that it once had, but also that the atmosphere which remains is still very active.
You may be familiar with the phrase “follow the water” when it comes to the search for life on Mars, and for good reason – any place on Earth where there is liquid water, there is life. So, logically, the best places to look for evidence of past or present life on Mars would be where there has been liquid water in the past (or perhaps even still is, underground). But now there is also another approach being taken, in terms of possible present-day habitability in particular: follow the salt.
Scientists studying data from the Curiosity rover have found another interesting puzzle, one which may easily have gone unnoticed were it not for one diligent researcher in particular, it was announced last week at the 44th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas.
Having just finished its sampling of the soil at Rocknest, Curiosity is now moving farther north-east into the Glenelg area, and has come across another interesting “curiosity” – small, usually roughly circular ring-like features on some of the surrounding bedrock slabs which look like shallow depressions with a raised rim, kind of like frothy “bubbles” which have popped.