APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug 15)

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APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug 15)

Post by APOD Robot » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:06 am

Image Rover Arrives at Endeavour Crater on Mars

Explanation: What can the present-day terrain in and around large Endeavour crater tell us about ancient Mars? Starting three years ago, NASA sent a coffee-table sized robot named Opportunity on a mission rolling across the red planet's Meridiani Planum to find out. Last week, it finally arrived. Expansive Endeavour crater stretches 22 kilometers from rim to rim, making it the largest crater ever visited by a Mars Exploration Rover (MER). It is hypothesized that the impact that created the crater exposed ancient rock that possibly formed under wet conditions, and if so, this rock may yield unique clues to the watery past of Mars. Pictured above, the west rim of Endeavour looms just ahead of the Opportunity rover. Opportunity may well spend the rest of its operational life exploring Endeavour, taking pictures, spinning its wheels, and boring into intriguing rocks.

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Wolf Kotenberg » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:33 am

I was watching NASA tv earlier in the day and they were featuring the travels of OPPORTUNITY as viewed from orbit. It appears to me these craters look more like sinkholes, not craters produced by big kabooms on the ground.

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Ann » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:54 am

Grab the Opportunity while you've got it. That's the Spirit.

(Enough wisecracking for today.)

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by bystander » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:06 am

Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by islader2 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:18 am

:idea: I shall endeavour to search wikipedia for sophomoric bon mots of wit and wisdom while on a starlight trek to Crater Lake==fueled by Mars Bars. :?

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Guest » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:40 am

It's Endeavour crater ;).

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Jimblet » Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:02 am

Please spell it right: it's Endeavour.

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by videofeedback@msn.com » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:00 am

Kind of looks like there's small clumps of moss dotting the landscape everywhere...

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the largest crater ever visited?

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:06 am

APOD Robot wrote:Image Rover Arrives at Endeavour Crater on Mars

Explanation: What can the present-day terrain in and around large Endeavour crater tell us about ancient Mars? Starting three years ago, NASA sent a coffee-table sized robot named Opportunity on a mission rolling across the red planet's Meridiani Planum to find out. Last week, it finally arrived. Expansive Endeavour crater stretches 22 kilometers from rim to rim, making it the largest crater ever visited by a Mars Exploration Rover (MER).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gusev_%28Mars_crater%29 wrote:
<<Matvey Matveyevich Gusev (Матве́й Матве́евич Гу́сев) (November 28 1826 in Vyatka, Russia–April 22 1866 in Berlin, Germany) was a Russian astronomer who worked at Pulkovo Observatory near St. Petersburg from 1850 to 1852 and then at Vilnius Observatory (which he established at the University of Vilnius) thereafter. In 1860 he founded the first scientific journal dedicated to math and physics in Russia (Вестник математических наук). He was first to prove the non-sphericity of the Moon, concluding in 1860 that it is elongated in the direction of the Earth. He is considered one of the pioneers in using photography in astronomy, having taken pictures of the moon and the sun - including sunspots - while at the Vilnius observatory. He died in Berlin, Germany in 1866. A major crater on Mars is named Gusev crater after him, and it is famed as the landing site of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit.

Gusev crater is about 166 kilometers in diameter and formed approximately three to four billion years ago. A channel system named Ma'adim Vallis drains into it that probably carried liquid water, or water and ice, at some point in Mars' past. The crater appears to be an old crater lake bed, filled with sediments up to 3000 feet thick. Some exposed outcrops appear to show faint layering, and some researchers also believe that landforms visible in images of the mouth of Ma'adim Vallis where it enters Gusev resemble landforms seen in some terrestrial river deltas. Deltas of this nature can take tens or hundreds of thousands of years to form on Earth, suggesting that the water flows may have lasted for long periods. Orbital images indicate that there may once have been a very large lake near the source of Ma'adim Vallis that could have provided the source of this water. It is not known whether this flow was slow and continuous, punctuated by sporadic large outbursts, or some combination of these patterns.

On January 3, 2004, Gusev was the landing site of the first rover in NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers, named Spirit. It is hoped that the numerous smaller and more recent craters in this region will have exposed sedimentary material from early eras, although at first the region proved disappointing in its lack of available bedrock for study on the flat lava plains of the crater, Spirit's landing site. She eventually arrived at the Columbia Hills, however, and rocks examined in that region show that the Columbia Hills did have small amounts of briny (salty) water interacting with them in ancient times, though nowhere near as much as Meridiani Planum, the landing area for Spirit's twin, Opportunity.>>
Last edited by neufer on Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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His Majesty's Bark is worth the extra Byte

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:33 am

Jimblet wrote:
Please spell it right: it's Endeavour.
once upon a time apodman wrote:
The spelling of space shuttle Endeavour is definitely with the "u",
but I see the Apollo 15 Command Service Module called both "Endeavor" and "Endeavour"
- does anybody have a link to a photo to settle this? Did they even paint the names on the Apollo CSMs?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Endeavour wrote:

<<Space Shuttle Endeavour (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-105) is one of three currently operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, the space agency of the United States. (The other two are Discovery and Atlantis.) Endeavour is the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger. The orbiter is named after HM Bark Endeavour, the ship commanded by 18th century explorer James Cook; the name also honored Endeavour, the Command Module of Apollo 15. This is why the name is spelled in the British English manner, rather than the American English spelling of "Endeavor."

This has caused confusion, most notably when
NASA themselves misspelled a sign on the launch pad in 2007
.>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HM_Bark_Endeavour wrote:
Image
His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour
<<Endeavour was originally a merchant collier named Earl of Pembroke, launched in June 1764 from the coal and whaling port of Whitby in North Yorkshire. A flat-bottomed design made her well-suited to sailing in shallow waters and allowed her to be beached for loading and unloading of cargo and for basic repairs without requiring a dry dock.

On 16 February 1768, the Royal Society petitioned King George III to finance a scientific expedition to the Pacific to study and observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun. Royal approval was granted for the expedition, and the Admiralty elected to combine the scientific voyage with a confidential mission to search the south Pacific for signs of the postulated continent Terra Australis Incognita (or "unknown southern land").

The Royal Society suggested command be given to Scottish geographer Alexander Dalrymple, whose acceptance was conditional on a brevet commission as a captain in the Royal Navy. However, First Lord of the Admiralty Edward Hawke refused, going so far as to say he would rather cut off his right hand than give command of a Navy vessel to someone not educated as a seaman. In refusing Dalrymple's command, Hawke was influenced by previous insubordination aboard the sloop HMS Paramour in 1698, when naval officers had refused to take orders from civilian commander Dr. Edmond Halley. The impasse was broken when the Admiralty proposed James Cook, a naval officer with a background in mathematics and cartography. Acceptable to both parties, Cook was promoted to Lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition.

On 27 May 1768, Cook took command of the Lord Pembroke. She was refitted at Deptford on the River Thames, with sheathing and caulking to protect against shipworms and a third internal deck to provide cabins, a powder magazine and storerooms. The refitted vessel was commissioned as His Majesty's Bark the Endeavour, to distinguish her from another Endeavour already commissioned in the Royal Navy, a 14-gun sloop.>>
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Odyssey crater

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:07 pm

http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00003137/ wrote: Wheels on Cape York!
The Planetary Society Blog
By Emily Lakdawalla | Aug. 10, 2011

<<Ever since she landed on Mars, there have been three basic materials under Opportunity's wheels. There's drifty sand (which has sometimes proven to be a hazard), and there's sulfate-rich rock that has been eroded into flatness by wind acting on it over millions of years, and there's "blueberries," the hematite-rich concretions whose distinctive chemical signal brought Opportunity to Meridiani Planum in the first place.

The rocks of Cape York do not look the same as what we've seen before. They're finely layered, and that's certainly true of the Meridiani sulfate rocks, but they have a different way of eroding, and there are these odd little bright veins running through them. If I'd been handed this image and told to guess which rover it came from, I'd've said Spirit.

Gorgeous mountain views -- fresh rocks -- it's like Opportunity has landed all over again, and starting a brand new mission.

Except for one problem. Opportunity's science package is seven years past its warranty. A few of her science instruments are working just fine; these include the Panoramic Cameras, the Microscopic Imager, and the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer. (There is dust coating the front of the Pancam optics, but when necessary for science they can compensate by using a slice in the center of the images where the dust is not as bad.) Also, due to the soft nature of Meridiani's rocks, the Rock Abrasion Tool's grinding wheel is still in good shape, though the brush is bent so it doesn't do a great job of cleaning off rocks. The shoulder joint of the robotic arm is frozen, so the arm can only reach a skinny area right in front of it, but the drivers have gotten very good at positioning Opportunity where she can use her arm, so she's still very effective with the arm-mounted tools.

But there are two critical pieces of Opportunity's science package where the state of things is not so good. Opportunity's Mini-TES instrument -- the one that allows the rover to identify minerals from a distance -- is hopelessly contaminated with dust that blew into the instrument's periscope during the horrible dust storm in 2007. And the Mössbauer spectrometer, which allows the rover to identify iron-bearing minerals in the rocks right in front of it, is very weak. The radioactive cobalt source that it uses to generate gamma rays has a half-life of only 271 days. Opportunity has been on Mars for 2760 Earth days, more than 10 half-lives. So the source is only ½10 or 1/1024 as strong as it was when Opportunity landed; put another way, it would take more than a thousand times as long for Opportunity's Mössbauer to get the same quality measurement as it did when the rover landed (if I understand the instrument right; if I haven't I'm sure I'll be corrected in the comments). But without the Mini-TES, the Mössbauer is the only tool Opportunity has to determine the mineralogy of the rocks she's examining. And since mineralogy is what brought Opportunity here, I am guessing that we are in for some very, very long periods where Opportunity holds perfectly still with her arm against a rock, patiently waiting for the few remaining atoms of cobalt-57 to make enough gamma rays to tell her what the rock is made of.>>
Last edited by neufer on Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by orin stepanek » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:08 pm

Orin

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Smectite dab in the middle of York

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:29 pm

http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00002509/ wrote: The goal of Opportunity's trek
The Planetary Society Blog
By Emily Lakdawalla | May. 24, 2010

<<Opportunity's kilometers-long march across the sands of Meridiani Planum is a great story, and the journey is fun to follow; but what could be worth such a long march? The answer: Smectite.
Smectite :?:
Smectite clays are famous in some parts of the world because they tend to shrink when dry and expand dramatically when wet. This causes problems for basements, foundations, and hill slopes.

It's a worthy goal, really. Smectite is an iron- and magnesium-bearing clay mineral, a type of mineral known as a phyllosilicate. Phyllosilicates are minerals that have a platy crystal structure and frequently form by the alteration of other silicate minerals in the presence of water.

The presence of phyllosilicates on Mars is a relatively recent discovery. Mineralogists have been looking for them for a long time, because of their ubiquity in wet environments on Earth. In fact, if you have water in contact with olivine and pyroxene, some of the more common Martian minerals, for any length of time, it would be hard not to make phyllosilicates. If you want to find possible habitable environments on Mars, you need to be able to find places where there are phyllosilicate minerals. But if all you see is olivine, that's pretty strong evidence that water wasn't ever an important Martian substance.

Olivine and pyroxene are, in fact, all over the place on Mars, while definitive evidence for phyllosilicates proved harder to find. Like any other mineral, they are searched for from orbit based upon their telltale absorptions of certain wavelengths of (mostly infrared) light. As early as the 1960s, researchers performing Earth-based spectroscopy found hints of their presence, but the evidence wasn't definitive and could be explained away. Even when the Thermal Emission Spectrometer on Mars Global Surveyor mapped the entire planet in the late 1990s (revealing, among other things, the hematite hot spot that led NASA to choose Meridiani for Opportunity's landing site), evidence for phyllosilicates was present but not conclusive. However, a few spots were identified, such as Nili Fossae and Mawrth Vallis, where their presence was considered most plausible.

Conclusive evidence was finally unearthed (unMarsed?) in 2005 by the Observatoire pour la Mineralogie, l'Eau, les Glaces, et l'Activité (OMEGA) instrument on Mars Express. The paper explained why the phyllosilicates had been so hard to find: they were only found in special locations, among the oldest rocks of Mars, rocks of so-called "Noachian" age. These rocks are only exposed on the Martian surface in special locations where geologic activity has stripped off overlying, younger rocks or tilted whole blocks of crust to expose the more ancient materials. Previous methods of searching for the phyllosilicates couldn't resolve the spatially limited exposures of these Noachian bits of rock.

Another interesting fact emerged from the early OMEGA results: there were also lots of sulfate rocks on Mars, and virtually nowhere were the phyllosilicates and sulfates found together. The two types of minerals form in different kinds of watery environments; phyllosilicates form under neutral to alkaline chemical conditions, while sulfates form under highly acidic conditions.

In a nutshell, Mars' history can be divided into three ages based upon what was happening chemically. The first age could have been warm and wet (it was at least wet underground); the second age was volcanically gassy and wet; and the third, the one Mars is in now, is cold, dry, and, well, rather boring. The wet and possibly warm age occurred in the early to mid Noachian period and resulted in the phyllosilicate rocks. Then there was a huge burst of volcanism that filled the atmosphere with gases including sulfur dioxide, resulting in a period of acidic alteration of surface rocks, producing the sulfates. This period extended into the Hesperian age of Mars's history. Finally, the present (Amazonian) age, comprising most of Mars' history, is characterized by slow alteration of surface materials without liquid water.

So where does Opportunity come in? Well, throughout its mission it's been rolling across sulfate rocks formed during that middle, acidic age of Mars. Water is important in the story of these rocks' formation, but due to the highly acidic conditions that they formed in, it's considered unlikely that there was any kind of Martian life in those environments.

But, off in the distance, in the rocks along the rim of Endeavour crater, there are signs of Smectite, one of those elusive phyllosilicates. That's according to a paper by James Wray and seven coauthors from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter CRISM team, published last year.

So if Opportunity can complete its drive across Meridiani Planum to the rim of Endeavour, it could potentially sample rocks that formed in watery environments during Mars' wet and possibly warm geologic youth. These kinds of rocks have never ever been sampled by any landed mission. Opportunity's examination of these rocks could test the unifying theory of Mars' geologic history advocated by the OMEGA team. More importantly, though, it would be the first time that a landed mission could directly examine the ancient rocks from environments that might once have provided a habitat for Martian life.

What can Opportunity do, if it gets to Endeavour? Wray and his coauthors say that the Mössbauer spectrometer can confirm the presence of the minerals that are proposed to be visible from orbit. The Mössbauer does rely on a radioactive source that has decayed since landing, so it takes a REALLY long time to perform its measurements, or "integrations." So they will have to be careful about how many spots they choose to do Mössbauer measurements of. They also say that the Mini-TES could confirm the presence of phyllosilicates, but that would be quite a trick, since the Mini-TES on Opportunity was rendered unuseable by dust contamination of the mirror in its periscope during the 2007 dust storm. The APXS can do its usual determinations of major and minor element abundances, and all the camera systems are still working well, so Pancam and Microscopic Imager would yield first-of-their-kind close-up views of these ancient rocks from Mars.

That's the destination -- but what about the journey? One type of rock that lies along the ground in between Opportunity's current location and the rim of Endeavour is hydrated sulfates -- that is, sulfate minerals that contain lots of water molecules in their chemical structure. Now, Opportunity has seen hydrated sulfates before, lots of them. But where Opportunity has seen these minerals, the orbiters have not seen them on the ground where Opportunity has been. The rover will soon be venturing into terrain where orbiters have spied those hydrated sulfates. So Opportunity will soon be gathering data to solve the mystery of why these materials should be visible from orbit in some places but not others where they are proven to exist.>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_nucleus wrote:
On 4 July 2005 at 05:52 UTC, Tempel 1 was deliberately targeted by one component of the NASA Deep Impact probe, one day before perihelion. The impact was photographed by the other component of the probe, recording a bright spray from the impact site. Initial results were surprising as the material excavated by the impact contained more dust and less ice than had been expected. The only models of cometary structure astronomers could positively rule out were the very porous models which had comets as loose aggregates of material. In addition, the material was finer than expected; scientists compared it to talcum powder rather than sand. Other materials found while studying the impact included clays, carbonates, sodium, and crystalline silicates which were found by studying the spectroscopy of the impact. Clays and carbonates usually require liquid water to form and sodium is rare in space. Observations also revealed that the comet was about 75% empty space, and one astronomer compared the outer layers of the comet to the same makeup of a snow bank. Astronomers have expressed interest in more missions to different comets to determine if they share similar compositions or if there are different materials found deeper within comets that were produced at the time of the solar system's formation. The probe's spectrometer instrument also discovered the presence of silicates, carbonates, Smectite, metal sulfides (like fool's gold), amorphous carbon and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.>>
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by biddie67 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:23 pm

Congratulations on Opportunity's arrival - I hope that it discovers something really significant!

Are the handlers going to try to get it down into the crater?

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:24 pm

biddie67 wrote:
Are the handlers going to try to get it down into the crater?
Probably the most interesting stuff is going to be on the crater rim.
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Thinking » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:24 pm

Water is a rare thing. If Mars hadhas water, it would mean it was as close to the sun as Earth is for a time. But much can happen to a planet in just a few billion years.

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:30 pm

Thinking wrote:Water is a rare thing. If Mars hadhas water, it would mean it was as close to the sun as Earth is for a time. But much can happen to a planet in just a few billion years.
Water is not a rare thing! It is found all over the Solar System, in vast quantities. It is observed in other stellar systems and in star forming nebulas. It is clearly one of the most common molecules found in the Universe.

Mars does have water, and there is no compelling reason to think it was ever much closer to the Sun. Certainly, the presence of water on Mars doesn't require that it was ever closer.
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:47 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
Thinking wrote:Water is a rare thing. If Mars hadhas water, it would mean it was as close to the sun as Earth is for a time. But much can happen to a planet in just a few billion years.
Water is not a rare thing! It is found all over the Solar System, in vast quantities. It is observed in other stellar systems and in star forming nebulas. It is clearly one of the most common molecules found in the Universe.

Mars does have water, and there is no compelling reason to think it was ever much closer to the Sun. Certainly, the presence of water on Mars doesn't require that it was ever closer.
Are we talking liquid water here or just H2O :?:
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:29 pm

neufer wrote:Are we talking liquid water here or just H2O :?:
I'm talking the latter. But there's certainly enough of it, and enough energy in the Universe, that liquid water can't be all that rare.
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by bystander » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:02 pm

neufer wrote:Are we talking liquid water here or just H2O :?:
APOD: Seasonal Dark Streaks on Mars (2011 Aug 08)
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:54 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
neufer wrote:
Are we talking liquid water here or just H2O :?:
I'm talking the latter.

But there's certainly enough of it, and enough energy in the Universe,
that liquid water can't be all that rare.
  • Tell it to Goldilocks.
Yogi

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by BMAONE23 » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:20 pm

Mars only seems to be missing 2 things to have Liquid Fresh Water pooling on the surface. Mars needs a thicker atmosphere to allow for sufficient air pressure to retain heat and a strong magnetic field to deflect the solar winds from stripping that atmosphere off.

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:23 pm

BMAONE23 wrote:Mars only seems to be missing 2 things to have Liquid Fresh Water pooling on the surface. Mars needs a thicker atmosphere to allow for sufficient air pressure to retain heat and a strong magnetic field to deflect the solar winds from stripping that atmosphere off.
If I had some ham, I'd have ham and eggs, if I had some eggs.
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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by orin stepanek » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:06 am

Chris Peterson wrote:
BMAONE23 wrote:Mars only seems to be missing 2 things to have Liquid Fresh Water pooling on the surface. Mars needs a thicker atmosphere to allow for sufficient air pressure to retain heat and a strong magnetic field to deflect the solar winds from stripping that atmosphere off.
If I had some ham, I'd have ham and eggs, if I had some eggs.
Now your making me hungry! :chomp: :mrgreen:
Orin

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Re: APOD: Rover Arrives at Endeavor Crater on Mars (2011 Aug

Post by Batjac2 » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:14 am

Sorry, but why does the rock to the left of center appear to have a series of holes of the same diameter in what looks like almost a straight horizontal line?

I really don't go looking for this stuff, i just happened to notice it...