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Curiosity Mars Rover: Atmospherics

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Chemistry & Digicam (ChemCam) Distant Micro-Imager (RMI) images acquired on Sol 2894 September 26, 2020
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is now performing Sol 2896 duties.

Claire Newman, Atmospheric Scientist at Aeolis Analysis in Pasadena, California, experiences that the rover recurrently appears on the Martian environment, making use of its Chemistry and Digicam (ChemCam) instrument utilizing a “Passive Sky” commentary.

“Amongst different issues, this permits us to measure the quantity of some hint gases within the environment above us, together with water vapor and oxygen,” Newman explains. “These measurements, now spanning a number of Mars years, have revealed that oxygen abundances in Gale crater don’t at all times comply with the anticipated seasonal variation.”

Artist’s impression of the ExoMars 2016 Hint Gasoline Orbiter at Mars.
Credit score: ESA/ATG medialab

Doable explanations are that there could also be surprising native or distant oxygen sources or sinks, or surprising chemical reactions.

Orbiter flyovers

“Happily, the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS) instrument on the [European Space Agency’s] Hint Gasoline Orbiter is observing the environment over Gale crater twice this month, giving us a possibility to do some uncommon joint observations of oxygen abundance from the floor and from orbit,” Newman provides.

These ACS measurements will inform Mars researchers how oxygen varies with altitude, right down to about 6 miles (10 kilometers) above the floor. If their lowest altitude measurements are very totally different to what they measure with ChemCam, that may counsel plenty of native surface-atmosphere change of oxygen is happening, Newman provides, which might be thrilling.

Curiosity Entrance Hazard Avoidance Digicam Proper B picture taken on Sol 2895, September 27, 2020.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Oxygen variations

“We already had one pair of observations again on sol 2880, however a second pair will occur early on sol 2894. We’re hoping that – between these 4 observations – we’ll be capable to perceive higher the oxygen variations we see,” Newman factors out.

Curiosity Mast Digicam Left picture acquired on Sol 2894, September 26, 2020.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

For Sols 2894-2897 planning, researchers discovered that there was a difficulty with the arm that prevented them from utilizing it just lately, in order that they deliberate observations that don’t require it.

Curiosity Proper B Navigation Digicam picture acquired on Sol 2895, September 27, 2020.
Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These included three ChemCam LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) targets (“Duachy,” a diagenetic nodule; “Duntulum,” and “Dervaig”), a ChemCam 12×1 Distant Micro-Imager (RMI) of “Housedon Hill” to complete up long-range imaging of the realm, a ChemCam doc picture of Dervaig, and a multispectral Mastcam picture of the Duachy / Duntulum body.

Survey space

The robotic’s Mastcam additionally checked out a clast survey space, to seek for aeolian modifications since scientists final seemed there on Sol 2878.

Lastly, rover planners included measurements of mud and water ice abundances and properties (with Navcam and Mastcam), in addition to searches for mud devils and clouds with Navcam.

Additionally, Newman concluded, the same old Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS) Radiation Evaluation Detector (RAD), and Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) REMS, DAN, and RAD have been deliberate.

As at all times, dates of deliberate rover are topic to alter attributable to a wide range of elements associated to the Martian surroundings, communication relays and rover standing.

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