As Uwingo Announces Beam Me to Mars, Curiosity Beams Another Image Back

Two Mars related stories.

First, Uwingo, the crowd-sourced Mars funding site started which is attempting to raise $10 million this year to support research grants for Mars exploration has unveiled a new campaign.

According to the announcement:

“Uwingu presents the first opportunity for a shout-out from the people of Earth to Mars with personal messages sent by radio transmission!

All Beam Me messages will be sent together by radio—at the speed of light—as a global shout out from Earth to Mars on 28 November 2014.”

That date is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first successful Mars mission, Mariner 4.

There will be nothing on the other end to receive the messages, so some might be reminded of the old “tree in the woods” question, but it still makes for an interesting shout out.  On a somewhat related note, there is this new image from NASA and the Curiosity rover on Mars as mission planners pause to select which rock will be the subject of the rover’s fourth drilling attempt.

NASA News Story:

The pale rocks in the foreground of this fisheye image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover include the “Bonanza King” target under consideration to become the fourth rock drilled by the Mars Science Laboratory mission. No previous mission has collected sample material from the interior of rocks on Mars. Curiosity delivers the drilled rock powder into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover.

Curiosity’s front Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam), which has a very wide-angle lens, recorded this view on Aug. 14, 2014, during the 719th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars. The view faces southward, looking down a ramp at the northeastern end of sandy-floored “Hidden Valley.” Wheel tracks show where Curiosity drove into the valley, and back out again, earlier in August 2014. The largest of the individual flat rocks in the foreground are a few inches (several centimeters) across. For scale, the rover’s left front wheel, visible at left, is 20 inches (0.5 meter) in diameter.

A map showing Hidden Valley, and NASA’s original caption is below. Full site with other images here.

Image Credit : JPL

Image Credit : JPL

Original Caption:

“The main map here shows the assortment of landforms near the location of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover as the rover’s second anniversary of landing on Mars nears. The gold traverse line entering from upper right ends at Curiosity’s position as of the 705th Martian day, or sol, of the mission on Mars (July 31, 2014). The inset map shows the mission’s entire traverse from the landing on Aug. 5, 2012, PDT (Aug. 6, UTC) to Sol 705, and the remaining distance to long-term science destinations near Murray Buttes, at the base of Mount Sharp. The label “Aug. 5, 2013” indicates where Curiosity was one year after landing.

Curiosity spent much of July 2014 crossing an upland area called “Zabriskie Plateau,” where embedded, sharp rocks presented hazards for the rover’s wheels. The traverse line enters the main map at the rover’s location as of Sol 692 (July 17, 2014). A near-term science destination is the “Pahrump Hills” feature near the lower left corner. Scientists anticipate that outcrop rock there may provide a preview of a geological unit that is part of the base of Mount Sharp, rather than floor of Gale Crater. Between the Sol 705 location and Pahrump Hills, the rover’s anticipated route dips into sandy-floored valleys.

Scale bars are 50 meters (164 feet) on the main map and 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) on the inset map. The base images for the map are from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. For broader-context views of the area that Curiosity is crossing within Gale Crater, see PIA16064 and PIA15687.

Before the first anniversary of the landing, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Project, which built and operates Curiosity, achieved its main science objective of determining whether Mars ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. Rock-powder samples drilled from two mudstone rocks at Yellowknife Bay and analyzed onboard yielded evidence for an ancient lakebed with mild water, the chemical elements needed for life and a mineral source of energy used by some Earth microbes.”

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