APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

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APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by APOD Robot » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:09 am

Image Curiosity Drops In

Explanation: Just as it captured the Phoenix lander parachuting to Mars in 2008, the HiRise camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) snapped this picture of the Curiosity rover's spectacular descent toward its landing site on August 5 (PDT). The nearly 16 meter (51 foot) wide parachute and its payload are caught dropping through the thin martian atmosphere above plains just north of the sand dune field that that borders the 5 kilometer high Mt. Sharp in Gale Crater. The MRO spacecraft was about 340 kilometers away when the image was made. From MRO's perspective the parachute is flying at an angle to the surface so the landing site itself does not appear below it. Dangling from tethers and still about 3 kilometers above Mars, Curiosity and its rocket powered sky crane have not yet been deployed.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by bystander » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:10 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: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by Wing Nut » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:28 am

So totally cool. What an outstanding achievement! We are so lucky to be witness to such a fine moment in time. Thank you, NASA.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by Boomer12k » Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:01 am

Technology is great....this is a fascinating picture...Thanks.

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Torksky

Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by Torksky » Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:04 am

Possibly one of the most incredible photographic achievements made to date. Are there any more of the decent?

PhilT

Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by PhilT » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:10 am

As if landing the darn thing wasn't impressive enough, this shot is amazing. Have you realised this achievement (from 340 km away) is like taking a picture of the White House from the top of the Empire State building in New York ?

soundlady

Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by soundlady » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:00 am

Wow!! Totally the Best..Pictures are great and the best is yet to come when Curiosity starts to roam around! I am into geology, and seeing all those rocks makes me salavate..just to wonder what those rocks would say if they could talk.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by henrystar » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:16 am

Wish the photo did not have that totally unnecessary white box around it....

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by Ann » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:24 am

A truly fascinating thing about this shot is that there is now enough man-made technology on and in orbit around Mars that it is in fact possible to use one probe to photograph another.

Reminds me of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. In the opening short story, the first human astronauts land on Mars and are promptly killed by the native Martians. And no one on Earth knows what has happened to them, because no unmanned probes have been sent to Mars before the first astronauts or put in orbit around the red planet, so there is no one and nothing apart from the astronauts themselves to report home.

The Swedish title of The Martian Chronicles is Invasion på Mars (Invasion on Mars). And funnily enough, "we" have in fact sort of invaded Mars, even though it is also true that "we" have never gone there.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by Indigo_Sunrise » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:55 am

henrystar wrote:Wish the photo did not have that totally unnecessary white box around it....
The box isn't "totally unnecessary". Some folks may not realize that the bright white-ish shapes are what's being described. I could even see how they may mistakenly be thought of as reflective 'somethings' on the surface of Mars, or even image imperfections that weren't processed out for whatever reason. IMO, the box is a help more than a hinderance.


Now back to singing the praises of another completely awesome image!

:thumb_up:
Forget the box, just get outside.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by neufer » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:13 am

Torksky wrote:
Possibly one of the most incredible photographic achievements made to date.
Are there any more of the decent?
This is the only decent photo of Curiosity at Mars that we have.
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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by APODFORIST » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:28 pm

It reminds me to the spectacular photo of Phoenix Lander during descent to Mars taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2008:

http://www.starobserver.org/ap080530.html

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by moonstruck » Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:58 pm

soundlady wrote:Wow!! Totally the Best..Pictures are great and the best is yet to come when Curiosity starts to roam around! I am into geology, and seeing all those rocks makes me salavate..just to wonder what those rocks would say if they could talk.


They would probably say "what on Mars are we doing here, what is our purpose"? :?

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by josimac » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:40 pm

So amazingly cool that we sent a flying saucer (sky crane) to Mars!

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by drollere » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:59 pm

it would be great to see a pullback montage of mars orbiter photographs, from ground texture to hemisphere view, that shows the location of the landing site and places it in the context of named features visible from earth and the distance of the survey site from the polar cap.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by bystander » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:01 pm

Torksky wrote:Possibly one of the most incredible photographic achievements made to date. Are there any more of the decent?
http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php? ... 70#p181070
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: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by neufer » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:14 pm

josimac wrote:
So amazingly cool that we sent a flying saucer (sky crane) to Mars!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_S-64_Skycrane wrote:
Image
<<The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane is an American twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter. It is the civil version of the United States Army's CH-54 Tarhe. The S-64 Aircrane is the current production version, manufactured by the Erickson Air-Crane company. The skycrane is intended to replace cranes in remote or hard-to-reach areas.

The Erickson Air-Crane can be fitted with a 2,650-gallon (~10,000 litre) fixed retardant tank to assist in the control of bush fires, and it has proved itself admirably in this role. S-64 Aircranes have been sold to the Italian and Korean Forest Services for fire suppression and emergency response duties. Those in the Erickson Air-Crane fleet are leased worldwide to organizations, companies, and Federal Government agencies for either short-term or longer term use in fire suppression, civil protection, heavy lift construction, and timber harvesting.

Erickson is manufacturing new S-64s, as well as remanufacturing existing CH-54s. Erickson gives each of its S-64s an individual name, the best-known being "Elvis", used in fighting fires in Australia alongside "The Incredible Hulk" and "Isabelle". Other operators, such as Siller Brothers, have followed with their Sikorsky S-64E, Andy's Pride. The Erickson S-64E nicknamed "Olga" was used to lift the top section of the CN Tower into place in Toronto, Canada.
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by rkeefe57 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:58 pm

This truly is one of the most amazing photos, right up there with the one taken of the Phoenix lander by the MRO a few years ago.

Does anyone know what became of the MSL's cruise stage after the aeroshell was detached? I know it served as a radio relay during the landing phase, but did it go into orbit around Mars? Skip off the atmosphere or burn up on entry?

I don't think it was designed to do a lot beyond getting the MSL to Mars safely (no small feat) but it seems a shame to get it all the way out there and then just throw it away.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by neufer » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:17 pm

Click to play embedded YouTube video.
rkeefe57 wrote:
Does anyone know what became of the MSL's cruise stage after the aeroshell was detached? I know it served as a radio relay during the landing phase, but did it go into orbit around Mars? Skip off the atmosphere or burn up on entry?
Well, it was coming in on exactly the same trajectory and with exactly the same escape velocity as Curiosity itself...but with no heat shield. What do you think happened to it?
rkeefe57 wrote:
I don't think it was designed to do a lot beyond getting the MSL to Mars safely (no small feat) but it seems a shame to get it all the way out there and then just throw it away.
  • The Rodney Dangerfield of spacecraft components!
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/spacecraft/cruiseconfig/ wrote: <<Similar in design to cruise stages on the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Exploration Rover missions, the cruise stage for Mars Science Laboratory weighs about 400 kilograms. During launch, it communicates with the rocket system that blasts it into space. In approaching the atmosphere of Mars, the cruise stage communicates with the entry vehicle that carries the rover to the planet's surface.

Along the way to Mars, the cruise stage performs five or six trajectory corrections to adjust the spacecraft's path toward its final, precise final landing site on Mars. Meanwhile, the flight computer on board the rover continually checks the health of the spacecraft and relay the information to the cruise stage, which then sends the information to mission controllers via two antennas that communicate in the X-band.

A key task of the cruise stage is to control the temperature of all spacecraft systems. In some cases, fluids circulate through pumps and radiators in the Heat Rejection System and then dissipate the heat generated by power sources, such as solar cells and motors, into space. In other cases, insulating blankets keep sensitive science instruments warmer than the near-absolute zero temperature of space. Thermostats monitor temperatures and switch heating and cooling systems on or off as needed.

Mars Science Laboratory uses the stars to navigate. An onboard star scanner keeps the cruise stage on track by constantly monitoring its position relative to stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The cruise stage has its own miniature propulsion system, consisting of eight thrusters to be fired on command using hydrazine fuel in two titanium tanks. It also has its own power system, consisting of a solar array and battery for providing continuous power. The vehicle maintains forward momentum by spinning about its central axis at two revolutions per minute.

The cruise stage fits inside a broad, circular fairing about 4 meters in diameter. Upon reaching Mars, a cable cutter separates the cruise stage at precisely the right moment from the aeroshell that shields Mars Science Laboratory from frictional heat during its descent through the martian atmosphere.>>
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by r999fine » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:26 pm

Fabulous picture, however, looking at the shadows on the ground and reading the dimensions of the parachute and also the height of Curiosity ... shouldn't there be a shadow of the parachute visible somewhere in the photo? .... Just wondering ....

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by neufer » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:19 am

r999fine wrote:
Fabulous picture, however, looking at the shadows on the ground and reading the dimensions of the parachute and also the height of Curiosity ... shouldn't there be a shadow of the parachute visible somewhere in the photo? .... Just wondering ....
It is late afternoon less than 2 hours before sunset and the parachute is still about 3 kilometers above Mars.

To "some observer" 10+ kilometers to the east the parachute is making it's tiny transit across the face of the sun...not much of a shadow.
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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by Anthony Barreiro » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:45 am

soundlady wrote:Wow!! Totally the Best..Pictures are great and the best is yet to come when Curiosity starts to roam around! I am into geology, and seeing all those rocks makes me salavate..just to wonder what those rocks would say if they could talk.
The rocks will "talk" now that we have ears to listen to what they have to say -- the instruments on the MSL rover.

Can anyone explain the small perpendicular rifts on the surface to the right of the lander?
May all beings be happy, peaceful, and free.

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by sage » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:36 am

Image Congratulations to everyone working on Mars teams! Well done!

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Re: APOD: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by bystander » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:42 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: Curiosity Drops In (2012 Aug 08)

Post by neufer » Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:29 am

Anthony Barreiro wrote:
Can anyone explain the small perpendicular rifts on the surface to the right of the lander?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudcrack wrote:
[img3="Colorized relief map of Gale Crater. The Aeolis Palu landing area
for Curiosity on the northwestern crater floor,
and 4 km below "sea level," is circled. (HRSC data)
"]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... Crater.jpg[/img3]
<<Mudcracks (also known as desiccation cracks) are sedimentary structures formed as muddy sediment dries and contracts. Naturally forming mudcracks start as wet, muddy sediment desiccates, causing contraction via a decrease in tensile strength. Individual cracks join up forming a polygonal, interconnected network. These cracks may later be filled with sediment and form casts on the base of the overlying bed. Syneresis cracks are broadly similar features that form from subaqueous shrinkage of muddy sediment caused by differences in salinity or chemical conditions, rather than subaerial exposure and desiccation.

Mudcracks are generally polygonal in plan view and v-shaped in cross section. The "v" opens towards the top of the bed and the crack tapers downward. Allen (1982) proposed a classification scheme for mud cracks based on their completeness, orientation, shape, and type of infill.

Complete mudcracks form an interconnected network. The connection of cracks often occurs when individual cracks join together forming a larger continuous crack. Incomplete mudcracks are not connected to each other but still form in the same region or location as the other cracks.

Orthogonal intersections can have a preferred orientation or may be random. In oriented orthogonal cracks, the cracks are usually complete and bond to one another forming irregular polygonal shapes and often rows of irregular polygons. In random orthogonal cracks, the cracks are incomplete and unoriented therefore they do not connect or make any general shapes. Although they do not make general shapes they are not perfectly geometric. Non-orthogonal mudcracks have a geometric pattern. In uncompleted non-orthogonal cracks they form as a single three point star shape that is composed of three cracks. They could also form with more than three cracks but three cracks in commonly considered the minimum. In completed non-orthogonal cracks, they form a very geometric pattern. The pattern resembles small polygonal shaped tiles in a repetitive pattern.

Naturally occurring mud cracks form in sediment that was once saturated with water. Abandoned river channels, floodplain muds, and dried ponds are localities that form mudcracks. Mud cracks can also be indicative of a predominately sunny or shady environment of formation. Rapid drying, which occurs in sunny environments, results in widely spaced, irregular mud cracks, while closer spaced more regular mud cracks indicates a shady formation environment. Polygonal crack networks similar to mudcracks can form in man-made materials such as ceramic glazes, paint film, and poorly made concrete. Similar features also occur in frozen ground, lava flows (as columnar basalt), and igneous dykes and sills.>>
Art Neuendorffer