Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Laser blasting request

JPL: Please instruct your robot to laser blast and spectro-analyze the rock face causing saturated luminance.

Is this due to an unusually high albedo? It might be just a flat face with high specular relflectance, but there is no other like it in any other field of view, so it seems statistically unlikely. Perhaps it is a boundary between radically different sediment layers, deposited as ejecta from some meterorite hit. An evaporite?

The shadowed side is consistent with the lightness extending through the body of the rock. And there appears to be a darker band between the top and bottom portions.

These exposures at different times of day (note the shadows) show that there is not a lot of specular reflection.

from http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00020/mcam/0020MR0056005000C0_DXXX.jpg
from http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00019/mcam/0019MR0059002000C0_DXXX.jpg

Just curious. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Skycrane jet wash

When landing on Mars, the MSL skycrane held a fixed position while lowering Curiosity. There happened to be a lot of unconsolidated dust and pebbles, some of which got blown onto Curiosity.

The navigation cameras (Navcam) take beautiful 1000 x 1000 pixel stereo pairs. These views, with the shallow pits caused by the jet wash, are from sol 16 after Curiosity moved a short distance from its landing position.

Navcam A, stereo pair (cross-view)

Navcam A, stereo pair (cross-view)
Here's the plan view of these features, and Curiosity, from this vantage point:

"And then... Try to imagine all this sequence of landing and preparations as you were standing there and watching. Friggin metal spider with rocket engines lowers this car sized rover, flies away and crashes. This rover then sits there for couple sols without any movement. But from time to time it makes some tiny sounds, moves it's robotic arm, turns camera. And sits there again for hours. Zaps a tiny rock with laser. On one sol it starts moving. Moves couple meters here and there, turns around, goes silent again. It's like from some sci-fi book, except we actually are (let's get back to Earth) here and experience it. Not directly, but.. Hey, how cool is that every day we commute to work, hang out with friends and have new pictures coming to our pockets from another friggin planet hundreds of millions kilometres away. I think I need a drink now." Tadas Jelinek, comment on Boing Boing post.

Original pictures:

Navcam: Left and Right A (NAV_LEFT_A, NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 16 (2012-08-22 15:02:31 UTC):


Navcam: Left and Right A (NAV_LEFT_A, NAV_RIGHT_A) onboard NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 16 (2012-08-22 15:00:53 UTC):


A gallery of several of the first stereo pairs taken by the navigation cameras: http://imgur.com/a/Mc9OA#0