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NASA Mars rover to Study an ancient fluid-carved valley incised on the inner slope of a vast crater’s rim

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Washington, May 16, 2017: Mars rover Opportunity has reached the main destination of its current two-year extended mission — an ancient fluid-carved valley incised on the inner slope of a vast crater’s rim, NASA has said.

As the rover approached the upper end of “Perseverance Valley” in early May, images from its cameras began showing parts of the area in greater resolution than what can be seen in images taken from the orbit above Mars.

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“The science team is really jazzed at starting to see this area up close and looking for clues to help us distinguish among multiple hypotheses about how the valley formed,” said Opportunity Project Scientist Matt Golombek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena.

The process that carved Perseverance Valley into the rim of Endeavour Crater billions of years ago has not yet been identified.

It might have been flowing water, or might have been a debris flow in which a small amount of water lubricated a turbulent mix of mud and boulders, or might have been an even drier process, such as wind erosion.

The mission’s main objective with Opportunity at this site is to assess which possibility is best supported by the evidence still in place, NASA said.

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The upper end of the valley is at a broad notch in the crest of the crater rim. The rover team’s plan for investigating the area begins with taking sets of images of the valley from two widely separated points at that dip in the rim.

This long-baseline stereo imaging will provide information for extraordinarily detailed three-dimensional analysis of the terrain.

The valley extends down from the rim’s crest line into the crater, at a slope of about 15 to 17 degrees for a distance of about two football fields.

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“The long-baseline stereo imaging will be used to generate a digital elevation map that will help the team carefully evaluate possible driving routes down the valley before starting the descent,” said Opportunity Project Manager John Callas of JPL.

Reversing course back uphill when partway down could be difficult, so finding a path with minimum obstacles will be important for driving Opportunity through the whole valley.

Researchers intend to use the rover to examine textures and compositions at the top, throughout the length and at the bottom, as part of investigating the valley’s history.

Opportunity and the next-generation Mars rover, Curiosity, as well as three active NASA Mars orbiters and surface missions to launch in 2018 and 2020 are all part of ambitious robotic exploration to understand Mars, which helps lead the way for sending humans to Mars in the 2030s. (IANS)

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Emmy Awards 2018: NASA Nominated for Stunning Footage of Cassini voyage to Saturn

The Emmy Awards nominations have turned out to be more diverse than last year

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The Primetime Emmys will be awarded by the ATAS in Los Angeles on September 17.
The Primetime Emmys will be awarded by the ATAS in Los Angeles on September 17. Flickr

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) has nominated NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for Outstanding Original Interactive Program for its coverage of the Cassini mission’s Grand Finale at Saturn.

The Primetime Emmys will be awarded by the ATAS in Los Angeles on September 17.

The Creative Arts Emmys, which include interactive awards, will be presented during a separate ceremony on September 15 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

In 2017, after nearly 20 years in space and 13 years revealing the wonders of Saturn, NASA’s Cassini orbiter was running out of fuel. As a final act, Cassini began a whole new mission — its Grand Finale, where it journeyed into the unknown and ended with a spectacular plunge into the planet.

Cassini’s first, daring dive into the unexplored space between the giant planet and its rings kicked off the campaign on April 26 in 2017.

NASA's stunning footage of Cassini lands Emmy nomination
NASA’s stunning footage of Cassini lands Emmy nomination. Pixabay

It culminated on September 15, 2017, with live coverage of Cassini’s plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, with the spacecraft sending back science to the very last second.

JPL created a multi-month digital campaign to celebrate the mission’s science and engineering accomplishments and communicate why the spacecraft must meet its end in the skies of Saturn.

The multi-faceted campaign included regular updates on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the Cassini mission website, multiple live social, web and TV broadcasts during which reporter and public questions were answered.

Also Read: NASA Juno Data Indicate Another Possible Volcano on Jupiter Moon Io

A dramatic short film to communicate the mission’s story and preview its endgame; multiple 360-degree videos, including NASA’s first 360-degree livestream of a mission event from inside JPL mission control.

The Emmy Awards nominations have turned out to be more diverse than last year. Fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” has earned 22 nominations for the coveted Awards, while HBO’s 17-year streak as the most nominated network has been broken by Netflix. (IANS)