Mars Exploration Rovers Update - February 13, 2004

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html
Update: Spirit and Opportunity
SPIRIT UPDATE: Movin' Towards "Mimi" - sol 40, Feb 13, 2004
Spirit woke up to its 40th sol on Mars to the song "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong and then proceeded to have a wonderful sol which ended at 7:59 a.m. Friday, PST. After utilizing the miniature thermal emission spectrometer instrument on surrounding soil and completing some pre-drive imaging with the panoramic camera, Spirit proceeded 90 centimeters (2.95 feet) towards a collection of rocks called "Stone Council." The drive lasted less than five minutes. After completing the drive, Spirit imaged several rocks with the panoramic camera, and completed a mosaic of the area in front and to the left of itself.
On sol 41, which will end at 8:39 a.m. Saturday, PST, Spirit will be repositioned in front of the flaky rock called "Mimi" in preparation for placing its instrument deployment device on that rock during sol 42.
OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Intending to Trench - sol 19, Feb 12, 2004
During its 19th sol on Mars, which ends at 7:41 p.m. Thursday, PST, Opportunity climbed to Waypoint Charlie, where it will complete its initial survey of the outcrop nicknamed "Opportunity Ledge."
The flight team at JPL chose 'Here I Go Again' by Whitesnake as Opportunity's wake-up music.
The plan for sol 20, which will end at 8:20 p.m. Friday, PST, is to do a "touch and go," meaning Opportunity will touch the soil with its instrument arm around the outpost area Charlie, then stow the arm and drive. It will head for an area of soil that the rover's miniature thermal emission spectrometer indicates is rich in hematite. Over the following few sols, engineers intend to use one of Opportunity's wheels to spin into the soil and "trench" a shallow hole so scientists can check what's below the surface early next week. Knowing more about the hematite distribution on Mars may help scientists characterize the past environment and determine whether that environment provided favorable conditions for life.
Scientists and engineers will pore over the data collected along Opportunity Ledge this week to target a return trip to the most interesting science locations along the outcrop later next week.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ron wrote:

[...]
Any guesses what they will find in the trench ? I bet they will not find a lot of hematite below the surface, because it is concentrated in the spheres and the spheres are only lying on the top. There are no sand dunes like at gusev crater, because the spheres prevent them from forming - is this possible ? Could there be an other reason as density that prevents these spheres from beeing burrowed below the dust, maybe some electrostatic effect ? If the spheres were very light the wind would blow them to dunes, if they were heavy they would be buried below the dust, and there is a lot of dust falling down if you wait long enough...
--
http://www.geocities.com/carla_sch/index.html

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

check
hematite
environment
beeing
Actually, if there is a little soil movement activity, or if the spheres are moderately dense, the movement of sand could be enough to keep them on top. Try placing various sized objects in a container and shaking it- the smallest objects will sift to the bottom and the larger ones will rise to the top. These spheres could be going through a similar process, keeping them on the upper layer of regolith. I am of the idea that the spheres are from one of three possible origins: a) an impact in mud and the thin air and low gravity allow them to solidify and fall back to the ground. The spheres might have been heated in this sort of event, hardening them. b) accretion from some geological process, perhaps through the presence of water. c) biological activity.
If a) is true, then you would expect that these spheres might be very old, when it was more likely that water was extant on the surface. But, permafrost theories also say that there might be occasional torrents when impacts or other events release the water bound up in permafrost. If b) is true, you might expect a broader range of sizes, although some type of sorting process might also be at work. However, the look at the layering of the rocks and the fact that spheres are embedded throughout seems to indicate that they were present before the rock layer were formed. If true, and if the rock is sedimentary (as it appears to be) then it leads you to think that the spheres are resistant to the action of water and from an earlier period. Of course, some suggest that the spheres might have formed inside the rock, but my gut feeling (not very scientific!) is that this should lead to various concentrations of these spheres through the rock, not the sparse concentration we see. In other words, some clusters of the spheres should occur if they were formed in the rock. If c) is true, then we have found what we are after. I notice that many of the spheres have odd characteristics, such as "tapered" ends, or small depressions. Could these be traces of some structure that an original organism had? Another possibility is that some outcrop of mineral had crumbled and rolled downstream in the past, wearing away and producing smooth "pebbles". Note that this can also produce a sorting mechanism, as the movement of water and the mass and size of the stones could select out the ones in a narrow range of cross sections and masses. If true, we could expect to find other areas with lots of spheres of different diameter- larger or smaller overall. Note that I do include the effects of water in most of my ideas. Well, enough rambling.
Cheers!
Chip Shults
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@planetpluto.com says...

I think maybe there are some clues from the overhead imagery to the formation of the units we're seeing on the ground. What those clues mean, I'm not sure... *smile*... but there are clues.
I've looked at the enhanced version of the last DIMES images many times, and I get the impression that something flowed across the flat plain, from south to north. There are several features that look like very low flow fronts -- they're roughly lobate and have subtle surficial distortions that would indicate the bottom-to-top flow in reference to the image.
These flow features don't look like the standard fluidized ejecta you see around Martian craters. They look a *lot* lower, less relief. And there's no conveniently-located craters (especially of the right size) in the context views I've seen to have created such a pattern due to ejecta.
So, there seem to be landform cues for very thin material flow across the region. It certainly doesn't look like aeolian dust movement, it looks like ground material flow. Now, whether this represents extremely thin, runny magma or flooding by water or some other fluid. that's a mystery, at present. But it ought to be taken into consideration when trying to analyze the origin of the surficial materials...
Doug snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAM.mn.rr.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
says...

spheres
them on

the
to
keeping
heated in

presence
very
But,
when
Am I missing something here? What pictures are you using to come to that conclusion? If you look at this very close-up image, you will see spheres in a range of conditions, from almostr pristine to pitted and broken:
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/m/014/1M129430101EFF0300P2933M1M1.HTML

some
the
throughout
formed.
leads
from
the
lead to

sparse
should
Most soils on the earth are formed from chemical and mechanical weathering:
http://enterprise.cc.uakron.edu/geology/natscigeo/Lectures/weath/weath.htm#summ

Why?
that many

small
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/m/017/1M129692504EFF0322P2953M2M1.HTML
Hahahahahahaha!!! Sorry, I couldn't help but laugh. What you are looking at are spheres in various stages of mechanical decomposition. They are inorganic mineraloids, dude.

and
"pebbles".
of
a
to find

smaller
Well,
Have some patience. That is on the rover's agenda. They also plan to travel to a much large crater that is much closer to Opportunity than the crater that Spirit is trying to reach. I suspect Opportunity may actually reach that crater before Spirit reaches its crater.

result
Well, there is certainly no evidence one way or another for that idea. If you look at an image of the region, you will note that it is a large crater that has been nearly completely filled with soil/sediment/regolith:
http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/dataViz/topsites/final/HematiteWest /
Also note that there are younger craters that have impacted this filled region, which has in turn filled the older, much larger crater. This fact, aside from the fact of the presence of hematite, and the flatness of the terraine, is one of the reasons why this site was chosen for exploration.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snip

Do you have to, George?
snip

I have seen pictures of massive landslides that grades into what look like a fluidized flow. To consider water and ice involved does not pose a problem to me.
Carsten
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

looking
Yes, I do. :-)

a
But we see the same phenomenon in landslides in desert regions on the earth. There is evidence that some large landslides will behave as a fluid due to the creation of a layer of compressed air between the landslide material and the ground upon which it is sliding. Such a layer acts like a lubricant that reduces friction, and will allow the slide to behave as a fluid. In the case of Mars, the air would consist of the CO2 atmosphere. Now, I am not saying that water doesn't exist on Mars. Obviously it does, at least at the poles. And of course, we have all seen some evidence that there may be ground water, and/or frozen water in the subsurface. What I am saying is that there are other explanations for the fluid appearance of these landslides on Mars.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@george.net says...

OK, George, I'll buy that. Now, explain to me how you get a landslide on what appears to be topography that is extraordinarily flat for miles and miles in all directions? As I mentioned before, there are no large craters that would create these "splash" landforms as ejecta, at least not in the right place to have caused the effects visible in the DIMES images.
I'm not saying that water has flowed over or under this surface recently. It may have been more than a billion years since water flowed over this surface. But I believe it's very possible that water HAS had a hand in the sculpting of the surface we're observing, even at very high resolution.
Doug snipped-for-privacy@NOSPAM.mn.rr.com
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
What features are present that leads you to believe that flowing water has had a hand in sculpturing the landscape at the Opportunity landing site and/or vicinity? And please try to restrict you answer to features that could only have come from the flow of water, and nothing else.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Yes, reading comprehension. I'll speak more slowly this time.
If...they...are...ancient...I ...would...not...expect...some..to be...pristine.

http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/m/014/1M129430101EFF0300P2933M1M1.HTML
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/all/1/m/017/1M129692504EFF0322P2953M2M1.HTML
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

that
spheres
Why? Very little aside from wind is occuring that can alter anything on the surface. It certainly doesn't rain. And any frost action is extremely limited in scope and intensity. The surface of most of the planet has been left unaltered, except for wind effects and the occasional meteor impact, for perhaps billions of years. The landscapes you are seeing at both sites are very, very old.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
February 15, 2004
George wrote:

That is absurd. If that were the case, the cratering would be much more uniform planet wide. There is wide scale evidence of surface subsidence via ice removal and water outflow almost everywhere on the planet. That almost certainly has modified the surface.
You are an idiot, crackpot. Give it up.
Thomas Lee Elifritz http://elifritz.members.atlantic.net
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

on
extremely
been
impact,
sites
uniform
removal
has
The fact remains that both the Spirit and Opportunity rover sites are very old, and have changed very little.

You post a driveling site like this, and call me a "crackpot"? HA!
I especially like this one:
"Compost and Hydroponics are the key to Life. Face it, after we kill off all the trees, plants and animals here on the Planet Earth, there is little else."
Except that you seem to forget that at least 90% of all life on the planet lives in the oceans, not on land. I'd like to see you try to feed compost to an anemone or a sponge. We don't even have names or proper descriptions for half of the species on the planet. Please note that life existed on this planet for two billion years in the sea, at a time when compost as we know it didn't even exist.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

George, this guy uses to break any record on news-abuse - don't listen
Carsten
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've already come to the conclusion that he is an elfbitch. He's the only dork I know who is trying to save the planet while living on another one.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 14 Feb 2004 14:59:26 GMT, "Sir Charles W. Shults III"
[snip...snip...]

Sponge-like critters would seem to be a possibility. They evolved very early here and have fossilized remains that are similar to some of the fragments.
http://www.colossal-fossil-site.com/300test/300-test/07porifera.htm http://www.colossal-fossil-site.com/300test/300-test/06porifera.htm http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/children/fossils/sponges.htm
Of course, there's always the "Face on Mars" problem: Look at enough chunks of rock and eventually you'll see something recognizable. Would be cool, though...
--
Rich Webb Norfolk, VA

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hell why look for just primitives.......
How about a fossil Pisces feces facies ... :-)
like in the Phosphoria. ;-)
Bob
wrote:

many
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Carla

snip
Crushed basalt - judged on the general dark colour of the tracks the rovers leave behind. As to the hematite I believe that - from whatever wet watery circulation, it is a surface-precipitate. As a surface-feature it is vulnerable to the windy abration that also may scatter it as dust to other parts of the surface.

That would make the general raised values an attribute to wind-action depositing the stuff at one favoured spot - that seems less likely.

Wouldn't that imply different modes of origin for the spheres - the light-colored solid exposure seems to be composed of spheres but are low in hematite.

No. But there has to be a certain amount of moveable sand - it may have blown elsewhere

beeing
I don't think so. I have 'so to speak' introduced electrostatics to account for the cohesion of the soil we saw at the early pictures. I ment it as a substitusion for chemical reactions that has not happened, but would have, had water been present - because of the large surface-area of (and presumably large stock of) dust. It may however reveal a cerious gab in my understanding of chemistry.

Judging geology by pictures has a lot of drawbacks - it's not easy to 'see' the density of one sphere.
Carsten
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Carla Schneider wrote:

The spheres are not only lying on the top -- they are the main constituent of many of the thin layers. Most of the microscopic images show layers of small, tighly packed (though not clear how firmly cemented) spherules. Some, it looks to me like mostly the somewhat larger ones, are weathering out. It looks to me like most of the outcrop -- at least the one they have imaged most closely -- is made of the spheres plus matrix of much more fine-grained material, which (presumably) when it weathers turns into the fine sand in which the loose spheres lie.
--
_____________________________________
Richard I. Gibson, Gibson Consulting
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.