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How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

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How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:32 am

There is no shortage of eyeballs, human and robotic, pointed at Mars. Scientists are constantly exploring the Red Planet from telescopes on Earth, plus the six spacecraft circling the planet from its orbit, and two roving its surface. So when dust filled the atmosphere during the recent planet-wide dust storm, observations were plentiful.

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Re: How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:34 am


Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Rotating globes from May 28 and July 1 show a global dust storm completely obscuring the surface of Mars.

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Re: How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:36 am


Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The left photo shows the deck of the Curiosity rover, on sol (Martian day) 36, or Sept. 10, 2012, which was about a month into its mission on Mars. The deck is clean, save for a few particles and a shadow of the MastCam, which snapped the photo. The photo on the right, taken on sol 2,068, or May 31, 2018, shows dirt particles, powder and dust on the rover deck, surrounding an actuator.

Not all the dust comes from the recent storm, though. Mars is dusty in general, so most of the dust pictured has accumulated over six years. Sometimes particles are kicked in to the air when the rover drives, other times dust devils or a gust of wind lift the dust and deposit it on the rover deck.

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Re: How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:38 am


Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Benito Prats/Molly Wasser

The chart on the left is showing temperatures for a SAM actuator, starting at Martian sol 2,055, which was May 18 on Earth. The diagonal lines that form a cone starting on sol 2,085 show Benito Prats’ predicted actuator temperature range through sol 2,180, or Sept. 23. The vertical blue lines that fill the cone are actual motor temperature readings. The dust storm was classified as global on June 20, or sol 2,088.

By that point, the actuator temperature had changed drastically, as is clear in the relatively sudden narrowing of the chart, indicating cooler daytime temperatures and warmer night-time temperatures.

The chart on the right is the same, but shows actual temperature readings through sol 2,180, or Sept. 23.


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Re: How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:39 am



NASA Mars rover Opportunity SPOTTED after months of silence.

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Re: How a Tiny Curiosity Motor Identified a Massive Martian Dust Storm

Post by Dragon on Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:39 am



This video was taken in the cleanroom at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California by SAM lead mechanical engineer, Oren Sheinman, before NASA’s Curiosity rover was shipped to Kennedy Space Center for launch.

Both actuators are shown and both were tested to make sure they opened and closed without binding; in particular, mechanical engineers were making sure all parts were mounted correctly. The top of the funnel is covered with ultra-high-vacuum aluminum foil to prevent the few particles in the cleanroom from entering the sample path.

The white surface is the rover deck that later is covered with Mars dust, and the markings on the cover are used to align the dropping mechanism, CHIMRA, at the center of the sample funnel.

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