APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

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APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by APOD Robot » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:10 am

Image Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars

Explanation: An important threshold on Mars has now been crossed. Landing in mid-2012, the Curiosity rover is searching for clues of whether life could ever have existed on the red planet. Recent findings of Curiosity include evidence for an ancient (but now dried) freshwater lake, and the non-detection of the biomarker methane in the Martian atmosphere. To continue its investigation, the car-sized rover is on an expedition to roll up Mt. Sharp, the central peak of the large crater in which it landed. Life might have shown preference for water that once ran down the Martian mountain. Two weeks ago, to avoid more dangerous and rocky terrain, Curiosity was directed to roll across a one-meter high sand dune that blocked a useful entrance to Mt. Sharp. Just after the short trip over Dingo Gap was successful, the robotic rover took the above image showing the now-traversed sand mound covered with its wheel tracks.

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Beyond » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:49 am

I take it that the rover's tracks are on the left, but what's wider disturbance on the right from? And no matter how hard i looked, i couldn't spot any Dingo's. But i did manage to get a glimpse of a Dogasauraus. :yes: :lol2:
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by geckzilla » Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:58 am

The left track is from MSL's right wheels. The right track is from MSL's left wheels.
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Beyond » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:17 am

Ah, Dingo gap is much smaller than i thought. Gee, I'd have thought I would have realized that, but it seems not. :oops:
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Astronymus » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:39 am

What are those small ridges on the ground on the left side of the picture?

Some old cracks filled with harder material? The rover drove over the big one. The material seems white or light grey.
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Boomer12k » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:04 am

That is JUST PLAIN AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

So Coool!!!

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by zbvhs » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:02 am

Before going to live on Mars, maybe people should try living in the Australian Outback. Unbearably hot. Zero water, virtually no food. The aborigines managed it but only by constant movement. They were reduced to the absolute minimum needed for life. Clothing was an impediment. On Mars you'd need a habitable outpost to keep you warm and fed. Your outpost would need wheels so you could keep moving in search of resources. For the Outback, your outpost would need to be air conditioned for comfort and air-conditioned space suits might be useful. You'd need greenhouses wherein to grow food (that wouldn't be overrun by cockroaches) and everything would need to be recycled. The energy requirements might not be sustainable.
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Nitpicker » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:09 pm

zbvhs wrote:Before going to live on Mars, maybe people should try living in the Australian Outback. Unbearably hot. Zero water, virtually no food. The aborigines managed it but only by constant movement. They were reduced to the absolute minimum needed for life. Clothing was an impediment. On Mars you'd need a habitable outpost to keep you warm and fed. Your outpost would need wheels so you could keep moving in search of resources. For the Outback, your outpost would need to be air conditioned for comfort and air-conditioned space suits might be useful. You'd need greenhouses wherein to grow food (that wouldn't be overrun by cockroaches) and everything would need to be recycled. The energy requirements might not be sustainable.
There are people currently living permanently in Outback Australia, many of them by choice! At the very least, it offers a significantly better lifestyle than Mars. There are also people in places like Antarctica, which is probably a better training ground for Mars. Personally, I'd rather train for Tahiti.

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by orin stepanek » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:50 pm

Orin

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Guest » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:57 pm

It would be interesting to see what the infill rate would be for those tire tracks over the course of time. If the rover could get back to have a look that often... :?:

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by rstevenson » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:21 pm

I find the amount of backing and forthing evidenced by the wheel tracks to be interesting. A (local) human driver would likely just drive over in a straight, or at least simply curved, line. It must be that dang 13-minute delay before the Earth-bound controllers can see what's happening, and then that much time again to send any command changes to the rover. (Perhaps the controllers weren't in such close control, since Curiosity can navigate autonomously too. But I think in this case the controllers were awake and nervous, so they were likely issuing commands for short hops.)

The rover drove a further 135 feet beyond the gap on Feb. 9, in a much more linear manner, suggesting autonomous control is once again being used. Here's a pic taken after that drive, looking back to the gap. (For scale, the tracks are about 9' apart. That rover's BIG. And it nearly ran over my foot while I was taking the picture!)
pia17939_sol539-ncam_1.jpg
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by BMAONE23 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:16 pm

Beyond wrote:I take it that the rover's tracks are on the left, but what's wider disturbance on the right from? And no matter how hard i looked, i couldn't spot any Dingo's. But i did manage to get a glimpse of a Dogasauraus. :yes: :lol2:
Obviously why we don't see any Dingo, The Dingo-saur-us and ran to hide

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by MadCat-75 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:41 pm

Hi there,

Image

i have marked some (for me) interesting objects in the photo.

(1) cracked stone by a drive-over - over 900kg weight rocks ;b
(2) nice eroded stone - i guess sand and wind does that, not water
(3) what is there in the box to see? particularly the junction in the circle (4)
what can form such formations?

thanks for suggestions! :)

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Anthony Barreiro » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:47 pm

According to the International Astronomical Union, the large martian mountain informally known as "Mount Sharp" is officially named "Aeolis Mons." Prior to the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission, the mountain was unnamed. The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory team planning the Curiosity mission decided to honor the late Cal Tech geologist Bob Sharp by naming the mountain after him. But the IAU has clear rules about nomenclature, including, "commemoration of persons on planetary bodies should not normally be a goal in itself, but may be employed in special circumstances and is reserved for persons of high and enduring international standing. Persons being so honored must have been deceased for at least three years." On Mars, mountains are considered "other features" and are named, "from a nearby named albedo feature on Schiaparelli or Antoniadi maps." In 2012 the IAU named Aeolis Mons after the surrounding area of Aeolis. I think apod captions should use official IAU terminology, and if informal names like "Mount Sharp" are used, the official descriptor should also be used.
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Anthony Barreiro » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:50 pm

This is an awe-inspiring image, by the way. I imagine that with martian winds and dust storms the tracks won't last forever, but they evoke for me the ruts left by 19th century settlers' wagons heading west across the North American prairies and deserts. (The Indians traveled more lightly, and didn't leave ruts.)
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by rstevenson » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:19 pm

MadCat-75 wrote:... (3) what is there in the box to see? particularly the junction in the circle (4)
what can form such formations? ...
I believe that line of thin rocks is an "intrusion", generically, perhaps gneiss or something similar. Imagine an already formed layer of rock a few billion years ago. Then it's cracked by pressure from a volcano, and lava flows through the cracks, where it solidifies and often crystalizes under enormous pressure. Subsequently the softer surrounding rock erodes away, with the tougher intrusion rocks sticking up a little as erosion proceeds. That's what makes lines like that. The cracks may pass in any direction through the original rock, and may split off as we see here in your circled area.

Here's an example from a closer planet, Earth, in the Green Bay area of Nova Scotia.
intrusions.jpg
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by MadCat-75 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:18 pm

@rob:

thanks for the explaination. sounds quite plausible to me. :)

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by khbynum » Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:45 pm

Looking at the v-shaped grooves the rover made when entering that dune, I can imagine the pucker factor at NASA must have been quite high during the crossing.

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Perhaps not quite gneiss.

Post by neufer » Tue Feb 18, 2014 10:30 pm

rstevenson wrote:
MadCat-75 wrote:
... (3) what is there in the box to see? particularly the junction in the circle (4)
what can form such formations? ...
I believe that line of thin rocks is an "intrusion", generically, perhaps gneiss or something similar.
Imagine an already formed layer of rock a few billion years ago.
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2014/curiosity-update-sols.html wrote:

Curiosity Update, sols 534-540:
Over Dingo Gap, onto softer sand
by Emily Lakdawalla, Planetary Society, 2014/02/13

:arrow: Fractures in front of Curiosity, sol 538
NASA / JPL / MSSS

After crossing the Dingo Gap dune, Curiosity found some fins of material protruding from the rock. These are places where fractures within the rock were filled with a mineral precipitating out of groundwater. Since the fill formed, the rocks have been eroding due to wind. The rocks are less resistant to erosion than the fracture fill, so the fracture fill now stands up higher than the rock surface.
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Astronymus » Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:29 am

That was obvious. But what is it made of? :mrgreen:
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Guest » Wed Feb 19, 2014 2:45 am

In the foreground, I count at least 4 rocks of various sizes that 'MUST BE' sedimentary in composition...

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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by Ron-Astro Pharmacist » Wed Feb 19, 2014 3:41 pm

They also look sedentary. Not a donut in the bunch.
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by rstevenson » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:01 pm

Ron-Astro Pharmacist wrote:They also look sedentary. Not a donut in the bunch.
That's right -- donuts roll!
Donuts roll.jpg
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by neufer » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:52 pm

rstevenson wrote:
Ron-Astro Pharmacist wrote:
They also look sedentary. Not a donut in the bunch.
That's right -- donuts roll!
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Re: APOD: Crossing Dingo Gap on Mars (2014 Feb 18)

Post by DavidLeodis » Wed Feb 19, 2014 7:57 pm

In the information brought up through the "above image" link it states the image was taken on Sol 538. I know that a Martian sol is about 39 minutes longer than an Earth sol but to avoid error when trying to calculate what date sol 538 was in Earth date time I wonder if anyone knows what date sol 538 was or at least knows a link to a website that would let me find out, as I've tried searching for such a site but have not been able to readily find one.