Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CRISM Has Key Role in Selecting Next Mars Rover Landing Site

23.10.2007
Scientists scouting potential landing sites for NASA's next Mars rover mission are using new data from a powerful mineral-mapping camera to narrow the site selection.

When NASA Mars Program officials and members of the Mars science community gather in California next week to pare down the list of candidate landing sites for the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), they can refer to 125 new images from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). The images and accompanying analysis products are available on the CRISM Web site at http://crism.jhuapl.edu/msl_landing_sites/.

Built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), CRISM is one of six science instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently circling the planet.

"Since MSL will assess whether Mars ever had an environment capable of supporting life, it will have to land in an area with a mineral record indicative of past water,” says Dr. Scott Murchie, CRISM principal investigator from APL. “CRISM is critical to the selection process because it is the only instrument on MRO with the spectral power to 'see' the chemical makeup of the rocks."

One of CRISM’s main mission objectives is to find and investigate areas that were wet long enough to leave a mineral signature. Offering greater capability to map spectral variations than any similar instrument sent to another planet, CRISM can read 544 "colors" of reflected sunlight to detect minerals in the surface.

The imaging spectrometer is among MRO's cadre of advanced sensors studying Mars in unprecedented detail and contributing to the MSL landing site selection effort. This includes correlating CRISM’s spectral data with high-resolution pictures of boulders, craters, sediment layers and other surface features acquired by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and Context Camera (CTX). "CRISM images provide the scientific criteria that will allow the MSL team to narrow its choices," Murchie says. "By combining data from the MRO instruments, we can create a complete picture of the Martian surface."

The CRISM data release consists of user-friendly, color-coded, thematic images. Different versions of each image show clays, sulfates, and unaltered minerals that help tell the story of past water and volcanic processes on Mars. The set also includes infrared images of surface brightness and enhanced visible-color composites. Each image covers a square area roughly 6 miles (10 kilometers) on a side, with a spatial resolution of approximately 66 feet (20 meters) per pixel.

"The data products that we have generated for all the proposed MSL landing sites are scaled in a similar manner. This should make it easy for scientists and the public alike to distinguish between landing sites that possess a wide range of rock types, from ones that do not," says APL's Dr. Olivier Barnouin-Jha, who with Dr. Frank Seelos (also of APL) assembled the products in this release. "Going to a location with greater rock diversity will ensure that MSL significantly enhances our understanding of the geological history of Mars, including the history of water."

CRISM has mapped more than half the planet in its low-resolution mode since MRO’s two-year science mission began in November 2006, in addition to making more than 2,500 high-resolution observations of the surface and nearly 3,000 atmospheric observations.

APL, which has built more than 150 spacecraft instruments over the past four decades, led the effort to develop, integrate, and test CRISM. The CRISM team includes experts from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad; visit http://crism.jhuapl.edu for more information. Information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Science Laboratory missions is available online at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the MRO mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor and built the MRO spacecraft.

Michael Buckley | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://crism.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/articles/101907.php
http://crism.jhuapl.edu/msl_landing_sites/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

nachricht What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>