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The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thread)

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  • The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thread)

    I'm surprised a thread hasn't been started about this. NASA's Curiosity rover successfully touched down on Mars a few weeks ago (the spot was named Bradbury Landing, in honor of Ray's vision). It has been returning some amazing visuals ever since. One of the most amazing is here:

    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/news/whatsnew/ ... ewsID=1326

    Although it could be mistaken for Arizona, it blows the mind to realize you're looking at an alien world. There are a number of other interesting images at the bottom of the page, as well.

    This panorama is also amazing: http://gigapan.com/gigapans/113071

    and the descent was mentioned on the Armstrong thread:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZX5GRPn ... r_embedded

    Lastly, you can 'like' Curiosity on Facebook, and receive pictures and updates as they are released: https://www.facebook.com/MarsCuriosity

  • #2
    Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

    Fascinating. As a geologist, I did not expect this much information to be visible from a few pictures, which are remarkably good, from a jillion miles away.

    The landing area appears to be generally covered with wind erosion derived dust of indeterminable thickness with exposed areas of indurated rock, evidencing stratigraphic cyclothemic water deposits varying in composition and durability.

    I could not identify any evidence or post depositional structural distortion in the presumably stratigraphic rocks but there is an interesting unconformity in the distant slope indicating a hiatus in depostion with slight erosion of the underlying layer.

    The scattered indurated rocks in the immediate area appear to be of varying composition and origin. Some suggest cobbled water rounding, some are more angular and broken, a few even appear to be as hard as chert or quartzite with conchoidal obsidian-like fractures .

    I cannot determine if the topography is geomorphic or geologic. The major features surely have some structual implication but smaller nearby anomalies suggest water erosional origin augmented by high winds.

    I could not see any indication of igneous or metamorphic rocks at this location, which does not preclude such elsewhere on this vast planet.

    I am confident the smart folks with their scientific instruments will figure it all out. For now, I am more stoked than I expected to be, vindicating sixty years as a geologist.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

      Originally posted by lonewolf
      I could not see any indication of igneous or metamorphic rocks at this location, which does not preclude such elsewhere on this vast planet.
      This is interesting. So what are we seeing then? If it is sedimentary then that would imply some kind of seas or lakes in the past. Or is there something else?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

        Originally posted by Daisy
        Originally posted by lonewolf
        I could not see any indication of igneous or metamorphic rocks at this location, which does not preclude such elsewhere on this vast planet.
        This is interesting. So what are we seeing then? If it is sedimentary then that would imply some kind of seas or lakes in the past. Or is there something else?
        Correct. Everything I see suggests water born deposition. Obviously the stratigraphic deposits had to originate from source rocks at higher elevations. The bottom line is, all earth rocks are derived from igneous rocks, stratigraphic being merely the accumulation of fragment from the source rocks, generally by water but also by wind blown deposits which generally lack the layered sequences. Metamorphic rocks are simply igneous or stratigraphic rocks which have been altered by extreme heat and pressure.

        Clarification: A wind blown deposit, subsequently submerged and overlain would become a layer in a stratigraphic sequence. That is possibly what we may be seeing in the outcrops.

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        • #5
          Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

          Lonewolf, check out this new telephoto image they have.

          http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/m ... 16105.html

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

            All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth". If there is life somewhere else, I'm sure someone/thing else has claimed the "earth" name, too (because "earth" should be named something other than "earth"...as if it is the definition of earth/land). I wonder if an intergallactic war will be fought over the name? I'm not sure the Martians have a chance, but somewhere...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

              Originally posted by preston
              All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth".
              I know that is made in jest, but aren't you being arrogantly Anglo-centric? Just because English-speaking people refer to this planet as 'Earth', doesn't mean its REAL* name isn't something really cool like Qzerklanbia or maybe LR-PX-1092(C).

              *United Federation of Planet's nomenclature

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                Originally posted by preston
                All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth". If there is life somewhere else, I'm sure someone/thing else has claimed the "earth" name, too (because "earth" should be named something other than "earth"...as if it is the definition of earth/land). I wonder if an intergallactic war will be fought over the name? I'm not sure the Martians have a chance, but somewhere...
                Do you argue with your neighbor about which of you lives in "my house"?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                  While it is a remarkable engineering and scientific achievement I always have to ask: what's in it for us? How will the exploration of a dead planet help us? I think we landed on the Moon because it was there and close by, and then abandoned it. I'm not being a grouch, but I do wonder about the end game here. Are we seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                    Originally posted by JRM
                    Originally posted by preston
                    All the other planets have a name...but earth is arrogantly named "Earth". If there is life somewhere else, I'm sure someone/thing else has claimed the "earth" name, too (because "earth" should be named something other than "earth"...as if it is the definition of earth/land). I wonder if an intergallactic war will be fought over the name? I'm not sure the Martians have a chance, but somewhere...
                    Do you argue with your neighbor about which of you lives in "my house"?
                    Well at least you understand my point (which is in merely a curiosity, not meant to take away from the thread ...). A pet peeve of mine is when people speak of their OWN parents and say "mom said" or "Dad said" instead of "my mom said" or "my dad said". If we don't share the same parents then they shouldn't say "mom said". So your "my house" example wouldn't fit for me and it's not what I'm talking about (though I do understand your point; to each planet's inhabitant...it is "my house".

                    ...I mean shouldn't "earth" be named "Andros" or "humana" or if I were Gary Larsson "Ultimately Doomed" or something with a nickname of "earth" because otherwise it is [western civ] homo-centric ("man", Marlow...anglo-centric...totally different meaning; almost all languages refer to "earth" as the definitive word for soil, though languages with characters (Japanese, etc) make a distinction. Which of course it would be if you were the only members of the universe. Which WOULD be considered arrogant if there are others out there.)

                    Anyway, just a question and the pictures and the thoughts they evoke are more interesting than this thread diversion, imo. Carry on.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                      Originally posted by preston
                      ...I mean shouldn't "earth" be named "Andros" or "humana" or if I were Gary Larsson "Ultimately Doomed"
                      How about Bactosphere?

                      Originally posted by jeremyp
                      Are we seeking knowledge for knowledge's sake?
                      Personally, I would agree that we are. But the upside is that many of the greatest discoveries came from the least expected places. Casting a broad net is never a bad plan, in my opinion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                        Back to the point of this thread, this expedition is really remarkable. Ever since about 1972-ish, I've been totally gung-ho on the unmanned NASA program--which produces vastly more knowledge than the manned missions and at a tiny fraction of the price. Sadly, the manned space program peaked in 1969 and has dwindled ever since. But, yes, the unmanned program is immensely important and should be continued and even expanded.

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                        • #13
                          Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                          Pictures like these from over 100 million miles away just blow me away.
                          "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                          by Thomas Henry Huxley

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                            Just imagine the sensation when Curiosity goes over the next hill, and there's an abandoned gas station......

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: The Earthlings are coming! (or, the Curiosity Rover thre

                              Originally posted by Daisy
                              Lonewolf, check out this new telephoto image they have.

                              http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/m ... 16105.html
                              The closer view reaffirms, to me, my initial impression that these are shallow lacustrine deposits (shales, sands). I cannot positively identify from the color alone any deep marine deposits (limestones, dolomites, marls) but the thick overhanging ledge on the far ridge is suggestive of a more erosion resistant formation.
                              If we can locate the source of the rock debris around the Rover we will have more answers and presumably the Rover instruments will determine the composition and type of the rocks.

                              I am with other posters here in that I don't really know what the end game is.. but the pictures are fascinating.

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