[meteorite-list] MRO Spies Where Rover's Cruise Stage, Tungsten Blocks Hit Mars

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2012 08:05:55 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201212061605.qB6G5tQZ002014_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Orbiter Spies Where Rover's Cruise Stage Hit Mars
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
December 05, 2012

During the 10 minutes before the NASA Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft
entered the Martian atmosphere to deliver the rover Curiosity to the
surface, the spacecraft shed its cruise stage, which had performed vital
functions during the flight from Earth, and then jettisoned two
165-pound (75-kilogram) blocks of tungsten to gain aerodynamic lift.

Cameras on the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have imaged impact scars
where the tungsten blocks and the broken-apart cruise stage hit about 50
miles (80 kilometers) west of where Curiosity landed on Aug. 5, 2012,
PDT (Aug. 6, UTC).

The images from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment
(HiRISE) camera are online at
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA16456 .

Although hundreds of new impact sites have been imaged on Mars,
researchers do not get independent information about the initial size,
velocity, density, strength, or impact angle of the objects. For the
Mars Science Laboratory hardware, such information is known, so study of
this impact field will provide information on impact processes and Mars
surface and atmospheric properties.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been examining Mars with six science
instruments since 2006. Now in an extended mission, the orbiter
continues to provide insights about the planet's ancient environments
and about how processes such as wind, meteorite impacts and seasonal
frosts are continuing to affect the Martian surface today. This mission
has returned more data about Mars than all other orbital and surface
missions combined.

More than 27,000 images taken by HiRISE are available for viewing on the
instrument team's website: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu . Each
observation by this telescopic camera covers several square miles, or
square kilometers, and can reveal features as small as a desk.

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson. The instrument
was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. The
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate,
Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology,
also in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, see:
www.nasa.gov/mro <http://www.nasa.gov/mro> .

Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
guy.webster at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Thu 06 Dec 2012 11:05:55 AM PST

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