NASA’s Curiosity Rover Captures Fantastic Sand Dunes Of Mars

Space exploration is a fascinating subject which encompasses a wide selection of avenues which include the search for other life forms to new discoveries both concerning known and also unknown distant plants. NASA has recently released images from the Curiosity Mars rover which show a fantastic selection of images of Sand Dunes from the red planet.

Below is a selection of images of Sand Dunes which have been both snapped and also transmitted back by Curiosity, it conveys an extremely steep surface where “cascading sand has sculpted very different textures”  Researchers are implementing the rover with the aim of examining examples of the Bagnold Dunes, “this is a band of dark sand dunes lining the northwestern flank of Mt. Sharp”. 

The Curiosity rover “conveys the downwind side of a dune at around about 13 feet high within the Bagnold Dunes field on Mars”. Below is an image which really does capture both the steepness and also the varying textures, The mission’s dune-investigation campaign is designed to increase understanding about how “wind moves and sorts grains of sand in an environment with less gravity and much less atmosphere than well-studied dune fields on Earth”

Below is another incredible image, the Curiosity rover has been stationed on Mars since August 2012 and had managed to reach the base of Mount Sharp in 2014. This image was also taken from the “telephoto-lens camera of the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, this reveals fine details of the downwind face of Namib Dune. Sand on this face of the dark dune has cascaded down a slope of about 26 to 28 degrees”.

 

It’s certainly impressive and what space discoveries are all about, it also makes you wonder what else will be found within the near future, perhaps there really is life on Mars, if not, the advancement within this area of tech will make it a possibility of deeper and more detailed space exploration.

Drive Your Land Rover From Your Phone

Remote control cars are a thing of joy. Watching them speeding along your path only to struggle when it gets to the grass. We have started to relive that joy with self-driving cars, all the effort removed so you only have to focus on what you want to listen to on your way to work. Land Rover, however, want to combine the two, they want you to be able to drive your full-size car with your phone.

During a demonstration , the car was driven by a smartphone located within ten metres of the actual vehicle. With control over steering, brakes and the accelerometer. While the limit for driving the vehicle by smartphone is just 4MPH, with the system cutting out when it detects the smartphone getting either too far or too close to vehicle.

The app is marketed as being useful for when you’re driving the car across difficult terrain such as across streams and where the roads are made difficult by snow or rain.

While it is limited by how far you can be from your car, and obviously how close you are (just to be safe), being able to drive any life size vehicle by remote is like a dream come true. How long before racing on TV is just done by somebody sitting in the pits with a PlayStation controller?

https://youtu.be/QjJ2wKCMq5w

Thank you MACNN for the information.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch.

NASA’s Mars Rover to Be Reset and Wiped

NASA is preparing to reset and wipe the flash memory in their Mars rover Opportunity. Opportunity is the older of the two rovers cruising around on Mars’ surface and has done so since 2004. With it’s general age and the harsh environment it operates in, but also the older technology in use, it is starting to show more and more problems. NASA’s engineers had to reset the rover with increasing frequency and during August they had to do it over a dozen of times alone.

Now they’ve had enough, and the flash has to be wiped. The rover uses the same type of flash as we do here on earth. But 10 years ago the automatic garbage collection functions, like TRIM, weren’t well developed yet and a lot of the flash has burned out. NASA’s engineers expect this to be the root of the trouble they’re having.

NASA will make a backup of everything stored on the flash, remotely to earth, and then wipe it clean. Then all the worn out cells in the flash memory will be marked as defective so they don’t get used any more. When that is done, all the data back will be flashed back to the rover before it gets another reset and reboot. While this sounds like a pretty serious memory surgery to some, all the rovers critical software is stored outside of the flash and won’t be affected. And looking at the technical point of it, a pretty ordinary task.

Still, I can’t help to think of the increased pulse and heart rate I get every time I have to re-flash an expensive piece of hardware, so I can only imagine that some of the NASA engineers are exited and nervous about the impending wipe. It’s still a pretty normal task for system admins, if you take away the part where they are located about 125 million miles away from the rover.

Opportunity has already set the record for most distance driven off-earth, and it looks like NASA hasn’t given up on it yet. There is still a lot of clay and shadows to be discovered on Mars.

Thank you cnet for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of cnet.

Opportunity Sets New Record for Longest Distance Driven off-Earth

Opportunity first touched down on the red planet back in 2004, at which point its original mission plan only required it to drive for 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) within its first 90 days on Mars. Of course it’s not uncommon for many space missions to out last their original mission, and with plenty of juice in the batteries the Mars rover has been going strong for ten years now.

Opportunity recently clocked up 25.01 miles of driving on the Martian landscape, putting it firmly ahead of the previous record holder, the Soviet Lunokhod 2 rover which had covered 24.2 miles in its life time after landing on the moon in 1973. This is a huge achievement for a piece of hardware that was only intended to run a 90 day mission, it wasn’t even supposed to last more than one year!

NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Manager John Callas said it is “not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance.”

How long the rover will continue its extended mission is unknown, but NASA are hoping it has what it takes to make it at least one more mile to a new investigation site, and we wish it the best of luck on its journey.

Thank you NASA for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of NASA.

NASA Finds “Mysterious” Rock In Front Of Mars’ Opportunity Rover

NASA scientists from the Mars Exploration Rover project have discovered a strange discrepancy in two photos taken by the Opportunity rover. The first picture displays a photo taken 3528 SOL days (or Martian days) after the Opportunity arrived on Mars. The second photo shows the exact landscape, only with a strange object, presumably a rock, added to the background just after 12 SOL days.

The first reaction of NASA’s scientists looked like: “‘wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can’t be right. Oh my god! It wasn’t there before!’ We were absolutely startled.” The object itself is merely the size of a “jelly doughnut”, as they described it. Nonetheless, it is a startling discovery for NASA scientists since they cannot explain the ‘rock’s whereabouts. Therefore, they have already cooked up a couple of possibilities of how the “jelly doughnut” got there.

The first theory is described as the rock belonging to a meteor which has entered the Martian atmosphere, and a fragment that detached from the meteor might have found its place in the exact spot we are looking at now. The other, more plausible, theory is that the rover itself might have tipped it over when it did a turn in place on bedrock, having one of its wheels broken. The manoeuvre might have coupled a portion of the rock to the wheel, which in turn flipped it.

There is still the “third” possibility, as every alien fanatic out there might think, that a Martian threw the rock (obviously ruled out of the question). Whatever the cause might be for the mysterious object’s appearance, we will undoubtedly see more information about it as scientists are eager to analyse it from each and every angle possible (and impossible even).

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmodo