USGS Astrogeology Science Center News News about current and upcoming space missions, USGS gelogic products and historical exhibits en-us <![CDATA[Name Approved for Mars Crater: Kilkhampton]]> Mon, 10 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Kilkhampton for a crater on Mars. For more information, please see the Mars map MC-11 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. ]]> <![CDATA[Three Names Approved for Mercury: Martins, Grifo Rupes, and Soya Rupes]]> Mon, 10 Jun 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Martins, Grifo Rupes, and Soya Rupes. For more information, please see the H-10 map of Mercury in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. ]]> <![CDATA[Ten Names Approved for Europa]]> Tue, 28 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Belenos Mensa, Borvo Mensa, Grannus Mensa, Moyle Cavus, Kerlescan Fossae, Kermario Fossae, Ménec Fossae, Maughanasilly Fossa, Eightercua Fossa, and Beenalaught Fossa. ]]> <![CDATA[Name Approved for Mars Feature: Oxia Planum]]> Fri, 17 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Oxia Planum for a feature on Mars. For more information, see the Mars map MC-11 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. ]]> <![CDATA[NOTICE: New URL for Astrogeology News Feed]]> Wed, 01 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 We have a new website, and that means a new News page! Going forward, all news articles will be posted there. In addition, we have moved some of the content from this feed to the new site. Don’t forget to bookmark the new site so that you can access your favorite site much quicker! team_photo

                              Astrogeology Science Center Team 2017

New News URL:

<![CDATA[Sol 2375: CheMin Success at Aberlady!]]> Fri, 12 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700


Today we received the initial results from CheMin's analysis of the "Aberlady" drill sample, and they look great! This means that CheMin received enough sample and we do not need to deliver more material. Based on the initial questions about how much sample was obtained (see the Sol 2373 post), SAM decided to not use their resources to analyze this sample. So in today's plan we will dump the rest of the sample on the ground where we can analyze it with Curiosity's remote sensing instruments.

We are currently deciding whether we should drill at another location nearby so SAM can have a shot at analyzing this type of rock. To help with that decision, in today's plan ChemCam will target two potential drill options, "Ulva" and "Sutors." ChemCam will also target "New Lanark" to document a possible transition between two different rock types that were observed near the rover.

We are also taking advantage of being stationary next to a large sand patch by obtaining change detection observations. In today's plan Mastcam will take images of the "Claymore" target to document potential sand motion in the area. This will tell us how windy it is in this region. 

Finally, today's plan includes a Mastcam 360 mosaic so we will get a spectacular view of our surroundings.


-by Kristen Bennett


<![CDATA[Sols 2386-2387: A new drill hole!]]> Mon, 22 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700

The drilling planned for last weekend was successful, so the top priority for Sol 2386 is to drop portions of the Kilmarie sample onto a closed SAM inlet cover and take Mastcam images after each dropoff to characterize the size of each portion.  The results of this portioning test will be used to decide how many portions to eventually drop into SAM.  After this testing is completed, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere above MSL by imaging the Sun through neutral-density filters, and Navcam will search for clouds.  Then the ChemCam RMI will acquire a "stack" of images of the Aberlady drill hole at various focus settings to find the best focus setting for future LIBS elemental chemistry measurements from our new vantage point.  The RMI will also acquire a couple mosaics of the sulfate-rich rocks exposed in the distance southeast of the rover.  Mastcam will measure variations in sky brightness to constrain the size of dust grains suspended in the atmosphere before the rover takes a long nap.  Late that evening, CheMin will vibrate its inlet sieve and dump the Aberlady sample in preparation for analysis of the Kilmarie drill sample.  

On Sol 2387, Mastcam will again measure dust opacity and Navcam will search for dust devils and clouds.  ChemCam will then use its laser to measure the elemental chemistry in the wall of the new Kilmarie drill hole and of a nearby pebble named "Quirang" and a bedrock outcrop named "Caledonian Canal."  The Right Mastcam will image all of the ChemCam targets before DAN turns on its neutron generator to search for hydrogen up to half a meter below the surface. 

It was a quiet day for me and the other MAHLI/MARDI uplink leads, as MAHLI activities are precluded while there is sample in the drill stem.  Still, it was interesting to follow the tactical planning today!


by Ken Herkenhoff]]>
<![CDATA[Names Approved for Mercury: Six Faculae]]> Tue, 16 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved names for six faculae on Mercury: Orm Faculae, Pampu Facula, Ular Facula, Sarpa Facula, Havu Facula, and Bitin Facula. For more information, see the Mercury maps H-2 and H-11 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.


<![CDATA[Name Approved for Callisto crater: Vili]]> Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Vili for a crater on Callisto. For more information, please see the Callisto map in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Name Approved for Ganymede crater: Laomedon]]> Thu, 04 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Laomedon for a crater on Ganymede. For more information, please see the Ganymede map in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Name Approved for Mercury Crater: Bellini]]> Wed, 03 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Bellini for a crater on Mercury. For more information, see the Mercury map H-14 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Name Approved for Mercury Feature: Borobudur Fossae]]> Wed, 03 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Borobudur Fossae for a feature on Mercury. For more information, see the Mercury maps H-13 and H-14 in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Names Approved for Nine Features on Ceres]]> Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Dankdag Labes, Sukkot Labes, Onam Labes, Lohri Tholus, Bagach Tholus, Kekri Tholus, Pasola Facula, Cerealia Tholus, and Makahiki Labyrinthus. For more information, see the Ceres map in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.]]> <![CDATA[Press Release: Discusses USGS-NASA Mapping Program]]> Mon, 25 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700


Planetary geologic maps show how rocks and sediments exist in three dimensions and help scientists interpret land surface evolution through time. They also help guide scientific investigations and place scientific results into a common context for comparability. Beginning at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in 2017, the USGS Planetary Geologic Map Coordination Group surveyed the planetary science community to better understand how planetary geologic maps are used and how these maps and supportive data should evolve in order to best support NASA's exploration objectives. The rationale, method, and results of this survey are now available in USGS Open File Report 2019-1012, "Planetary Geologic Mapping--Program Status and Future Needs." This report includes a summary of the survey findings and recommendations for the future of the USGS-NASA Planetary Geologic Mapping Program.]]>
<![CDATA[Astrogeology Stepping Out for STEM]]> Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 Members of the Astrogeology Science Center (ASC) stepped out last Monday night to join with other USGS Flagstaff Field Center employees and the greater Flagstaff Community in a fun-filled celebration of all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The 6th annual Flagstaff Community STEM celebration was held at the Northern Arizona University Skydome. Over 2000 people braved the rainy weather to join in the fun and learn about STEM!

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USGS employee volunteers at STEM night

ASC was happy to show off the “Magic Planet” - a spherical projection system that can be used to help science enthusiasts of all ages to visualize many of the global planetary data sets produced at the ASC and elsewhere. The young, and the young-at-heart were thrilled to watch the Magic Planet change from Earth, to Mercury, to Mars, and beyond. Attendees also enjoyed having the opportunity to “see” themselves through the eye of an infrared camera – learning about how the camera’s detector senses the infrared energy emitted by theirs hands and faces!

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Participants intrigued by the Infrared Camera activity.


Astrogeology employees, along with employees from other USGS Science Centers including Geology, Arizona Water, Southwest Biology, and Western Geography, pleased the crowds with lots of handouts including maps, images, fact sheets, and various kinds of career information. The ASC was among the last STEM Night participants to break down their displays for the evening – having interested community members linger until the very end. The following day, ASC employees began preparations for the upcoming ASC Open House, scheduled for September 29, 2019. On that day, the community will be invited to visit the Astrogeology Science Center for even more STEM and Space-related activities and education! It promises to be a good time for all! 

By Patricia Garcia