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9 January 2017

Monday Geology Picture: A Sand-Filled Room in Kolmanskop, Namibia

For this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” here’s a picture of a spectacular sand-filled room in a house in the ghost town of Kolmanskop, Namibia. I visited this diamond mining ghost town back in 2014, and you can find more pictures from that visit here. If you ever visit Namibia I highly recommend a visit to Kolmanskop!


21 February 2016

Sols 1256-1261: Driving Around the Dune

Apologies for the lateness of this week’s update: The rover is fine, gradually working its way around the north end of a large dune. I’m just an absent-minded blogger with too many other things going on! We started this week on Tuesday with the Sol 1256 plan. This included some long distance ChemCam RMi images of a location on Mt. Sharp that I have been advocating for, plus some small …


10 February 2016

Sol 1250: Dumping for Contact Science

The Sol 1249 drive went well, leaving the rover in an area with many nice outcrops of bright bedrock.  A large outcrop, partly visible at the left side of the image above, was chosen as the target for dumping the sand sample and examining it this weekend.  So, after ChemCam and Mastcam observations of the bedrock target “Kuiseb,” the vehicle will back up, turn a bit to the left, then …


4 February 2016

Sol 1244: Bump, Set… Scuff!

Today’s plan is focused on bumping towards a bedrock target to set us up for contact science in the weekend plan.  As we bump forward, we’ll use the rear wheels to create one last scuff in Namib Dune, which we’ll image as we drive away. I was the GSTL today, and we had a busy morning deciding where to drive to and how to image the scuff that we’ll create.  …


3 February 2016

Sol 1243: Getting ready to leave Namib Dune

The contact science activities on Sol 1242 were successful, which completed our investigation at the Namib Dune sampling location.  I love the above Navcam image, which shows just how close we were able to get MAHLI to the dump piles, followed by the really high-resolution MAHLI image!  Now it’s time to leave Namib Dune and head off in search of the next drill location. I was the GSTL today, and …


Sol 1242: Last analyses of the dump piles

Today was the last day for science activities at Namib Dune, as we’re planning to drive away on Sol 1243.  It’s fun looking at the disturbed sand in the workspace, and realizing how much we’ve done here (is it just me, or does it look like a big sandbox full of scoops, dumps and wheel scuffs?).  While it might look like Curiosity has just been playing in the sand, we’ve …


2 February 2016

Sol 1241: Wrapping up at Namib Dune

Curiosity is still parked at Namib dune, and we are we are close to finishing the science investigation here.  The team is still working to diagnose the CHIMRA anomaly, but the arm was cleared for use in today’s plan. The science activities in today’s plan include some additional MAHLI images to supplement the previously acquired selfie, and some long-distance ChemCam RMI mosaics to study layering on Mt. Sharp and the …


24 January 2016

Sol 1232-1235: Working through the To-Do list

We are steadily continuing to check things off of the long “To Do” list for our stop at Namib Dune. This weekend’s plan starts on sol 1232 with a day dedicated to analyzing the sand samples with SAM. Then, on Sol 1233 we will start off with Mastcam change detection on the target “Hebron” and then a “multispectral” observation of the target “Hakos” using all of Mastcam’s different color filters. …


14 May 2015

Sol 984: Slippery sand

  by Ken Herkenhoff The MSL tactical team took a day off yesterday to allow Earth and Mars time to synch up; planning is no longer restricted and we will be working every day the rest of this week (including Saturday).  Despite efforts to avoid sandy areas, the Sol 983 drive stopped short when the rover detected that it was slipping too much.  So after taking some Mastcam images of …


12 May 2015

Sol 983: More sand traps

  by Ken Herkenhoff The Sol 981 drive got the rover around the troublesome ripples and to the desired location, which gave us a good view of the terrain ahead.  Unfortunately, the images taken from the new location show more sandy ripples between the rover and the sharp transition between bright and dark rocks that we would would like to examine close up.  So the plan for Sol 983 is …


15 April 2015

Sol 957: Fine Views and Limited Downlink

  by Ken Herkenhoff MSL drove about 65 meters on Sol 956, then took some nice images of the path ahead.  As we continue to drive each sol, acquiring images of the terrain around us is important to the science team.  We don’t want to miss anything!  So the Sol 957 plan includes ChemCam RMI and Mastcam images of outcrops to the south and a Mastcam image of the windblown …


6 April 2013

Plane Views: Amsterdam to Cape Town– Part II

Here is Part II of the views that I observed during a flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town back in September 2012. Part I is here. I believe that all of these shots were taken over Algeria. There are some stunning desert views. Although I grew up in relatively lush New England, I have always liked deserts. I think I first became enchanted by deserts when I was an exchange …


21 November 2011

Sand Dunes in Death Valley

I noticed that there has been a sand dune meme wandering around the science blogosphere over the past week or so. Here is my contribution to the meme– some pictures of sand dunes in Death Valley, California. I visited these sand dunes near sunset after a long day of mapping with my undergraduate fieldwork program in Fall 2005. Our instructors had promised we could visit the dunes once we finished …


6 November 2009

Big Picture HiRISE Gallery!

Speaking of Mars art, the Big Picture blog (which all of you should be following by now) has a feature on images of Mars taken by HiRISE. Head on over and take a look. Mars is a really pretty and often bizarre-looking place. [PS – Have you voted today?]


15 October 2009

Mars Art: HiRISE Dust Devils and Dusty Dunes

It’s been a while since I posted any “Mars art” but I just came across this Bad Astronomy post and had to share. The short explanation of the photo is that dust devils spiraling across these sand dunes have removed the red dust but left behind dark sand in artistic swirls. For a more detailed description, check out Bad Astronomy, and to take a closer look at the image itself, …


27 April 2009

Pretty Dunes in Gale Crater

This is a tiny subframe from the HiRISE image PSP_009294_1750.


13 April 2009

Dune Mars, Visiting Mars and Carnival #98!

It seems that the astro-blogs have Mars on the brain today! Bad Astronomy has a post about some mind-bendingly cool HiRISE pictures of dunes on Mars, and The Spacewriter has a post about Mars as a whole and Ganges Chasma in particular. And, if you’d like a little more diversity in your space-blogging, go check out the 98th Carnival of Space at Universe Today!


20 March 2009

Grand Falls and Sand Dunes

(This is day 6 of a week-long field trip in Arizona. Get caught up with days 1,2,3,4,5) Today we visited Grand Falls and the nearby dune field. Grand Falls is especially interesting because it combines many of the processes that are active in shaping planetary surfaces. The falls are the result of a huge lava flow pouring into the ancient canyon of the Little Colorado river, filling the canyon and …


19 March 2009

Meteor Crater, Walnut Canyon, and Red Mountain

(This is day 5 of a week-long planetary geology field trip to Arizona. Get caught up with days 1,2,3,4) Today was a long and awesome day. We started out at meteor crater, the youngest and best preserved impact crater on Earth! Our guide today was Shaun Wright, a colleague from the Hawaii field workshop, among other places. He showed us infrared images of the crater taken from an airplane and …


16 March 2009

Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon

Today we made our way from Phoenix north to Flagstaff, and on the way stopped to check out some interesting geology in Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona is famous for its spectacular red rocks, such as Bell Rock, which we clambered around on today. Bell Rock is made mostly of very fine-grained sandstone formed by windblown sand reworked by the advance and retreat of oceans in the early Permian …