A frozen lake on Mars.
It suffers from stunning beauty.
I wanna go there real bad.
In a measurement taken on Wednesday, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered startlingly high amounts of methane in the Martian air, a gas that on Earth is usually produced by living things. The data arrived back on Earth on Thursday, and by Friday, scientists working on the mission were excitedly discussing the news, which has not yet been announced by NASA.
Methane has been detected by multiple craft on or at Mars multiple times. The speculation is it could be coming from life under the Martian soil, volcanoes or the rover itself. Methane does not last long in the atmosphere, so any that is detected has been released into the atmosphere relatively recently.
This is pretty old now, June 22, eh, but it was apparently a big one and noteworthily so.
All I know is that I am really digging the phrase, “startlingly high amounts.” Startling! Yes, sirree, I like that a lot.
A Field Guide to Shells and Lifeforms on Mars, part 1
Published on Oct 23, 2015
This is a video by Tim Beech, the owner of the now 22 year old Life On Mars website established in 1997 as The Peculiar Rocks of Mars. There’s only a single video on his YouTube channel, this one, so it looks like the series he speaks of never happened.
Maybe Tim just got disillusioned in his quest? These things are unknown. But this video has mighty few views for being up for four years.
I think the similarity in pattern and shape is quite interesting, but they could actually be just rocks in odd lighting… So many minerals form perfect geometric shapes here at home, so minerals would on Mars, too. Although these examples are not rigidly similar at all, some are rounded and well, it could be something. So there.
Yes… the more I think about it the minerals are out, (noting that rocks are lumps of minerals), but although “I Want To Believe,” it might be that while it’s certainly plausible, it is certainly not probable.
The movement clip (see sidebar) that Tim discovered does still intrigue me, though. The resolution he was working with for all of these shown here is just barely adequate for pleasant viewing, let alone analysis, so, yeah, illusion and pareidolia abound. Having said that, however, note that a few of them are still — of interest. And we mustn’t forget the myriad of fantastic “rocks” that our modern rovers have happened upon. And driven past.
Hey, here’s a link to Tim’s Martian Lifeforms forum. Not a lot there, though.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has come a long way since touching down on Mars seven years ago. It has traveled a total of 13 miles (21 kilometers) and ascended 1,207 feet (368 meters) to its current location. Along the way, Curiosity discovered Mars had the conditions to support microbial life in the ancient past, among other things.
And the rover is far from done, having just drilled its 22nd sample from the Martian surface. It has a few more years before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations. After that, careful budgeting of its power will allow the rover to keep studying the Red Planet.
Curiosity is now halfway through a region scientists call the “clay-bearing unit” on the side of Mount Sharp, inside of Gale Crater. Billions of years ago, there were streams and lakes within the crater. Water altered the sediment deposited within the lakes, leaving behind lots of clay minerals in the region. That clay signal was first detected from space by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) a few years before Curiosity launched.
“This area is one of the reasons we came to Gale Crater,” said Kristen Bennett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the co-leads for Curiosity’s clay-unit campaign. “We’ve been studying orbiter images of this area for 10 years, and we’re finally able to take a look up close.”
Rock samples that the rover has drilled here have revealed the highest amounts of clay minerals found during the mission. But Curiosity has detected similarly high amounts of clay on other parts of Mount Sharp, including in areas where MRO didn’t detect clay. That’s led scientists to wonder what is causing the findings from orbit and the surface to differ.
The science team is thinking through possible reasons as to why the clay minerals here stood out to MRO. The rover encountered a “parking lot full of gravel and pebbles” when it first entered the area, said the campaign’s other co-lead, Valerie Fox of Caltech. One idea is that the pebbles are the key: Although the individual pebbles are too small for MRO to see, they may collectively appear to the orbiter as a single clay signal scattered across the area. Dust also settles more readily over flat rocks than it does over the pebbles; that same dust can obscure the signals seen from space. The pebbles were too small for Curiosity to drill into, so the science team is looking for other clues to solve this puzzle.
Curiosity exited the pebble parking lot back in June and started to encounter more complex geologic features. It stopped to take a 360-degree panorama at an outcrop called “Teal Ridge.” More recently, it took detailed images of “Strathdon,” a rock made of dozens of sediment layers that have hardened into a brittle, wavy heap. Unlike the thin, flat layers associated with lake sediments Curiosity has studied, the wavy layers in these features suggest a more dynamic environment. Wind, flowing water or both could have shaped this area.
Both Teal Ridge and Strathdon represent changes in the landscape. “We’re seeing an evolution in the ancient lake environment recorded in these rocks,” said Fox. “It wasn’t just a static lake. It’s helping us move from a simplistic view of Mars going from wet to dry. Instead of a linear process, the history of water was more complicated.”
Curiosity is discovering a richer, more complex story behind the water on Mount Sharp – a process Fox likened to finally being able to read the paragraphs in a book – a dense book, with pages torn out, but a fascinating tale to piece together.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leads the Mars Science Laboratory mission that includes Curiosity.
For more about NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit:
The rovers thrill me no end.
Having grown up with space exploration always in the news, sometimes in the most exciting of ways, any such efforts are almost Holy, being that exploration is in our blood and in our genes, it’s kind of an inevitable given.
I hope it goes on until we land folks there so it can record it.
The full frame from NASA.
And now, from:
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Just thought I’d throw this in here, rather than my “interesting rocks” thread, since it doesn’t really have to do with rocks. Anyway, here’s a .gif made with some Curiosity Right Navcam images taken 13 seconds apart. Unfortunately, it appears that the Left Navcam apparently wasn’t taking pictures at the time. I guess they don’t do that all the time anymore. Anyway, it’s like that bright spot that showed up on one of the images a few weeks back, except that it’s black and kind of looks like one of those “tic-tac” deals that are so popular these days.
Aerial anomalies on Mars are a treat for me.
This one, of course, since it’s only on one frame from one camera, could be the old cosmic ray strike and that’s been trotted out for it. Of course.
But, then again, it doesn’t really look like a cosmic ray strike, so… who knows what it is?
Naturally, my preference is a device of some sort. Or, even better, a critter! Now, that’s unlikely!
Which leads all the way back to my yoot, when a glowing orange aerial anomaly first triggered my deep interest in all things Forteana.
I love this stuff…
And, again, as noted, it really doesn’t look like a cosmic ray strike. Just look at that shape. Ya dig? Seriously, now.
Hey, hey, it’s the Bunny!
GIF courtesy of the inimitable ArMaP.
One of the first up-close anomalies ever received from Mars — and to this day one of the most intriguing. NASA says it’s nowt more than a bit if cloth from the landing balloons just passing through in the breeze. Yeah. Right.
I have always maintained that that attempt was just beyond ludicrous, a modern day ‘swamp gas’ salute. Only one of the appendages moves with said ’breeze.’ It simply doesn’t add up. Let’s just say that I would be even more surprised to learn that it was a piece of the airbag than if it was a living creature.