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  • Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration  (467)
  • Life and Medical Sciences
  • ASTROPHYSICS
  • 2010-2014  (467)
  • 1
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is focused on assessing the past or present habitability of Mars, through interrogation of environment and environmental records at the Curiosity rover field site in Gale crater. The MSL team has two methods available to collect, process and deliver samples to onboard analytical laboratories, the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite. One approach obtains samples by drilling into a rock, the other uses a scoop to collect loose regolith fines. Scooping was planned to be first method performed on Mars because materials could be readily scooped multiple times and used to remove any remaining, minute terrestrial contaminants from the sample processing system, the Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA). Because of this cleaning effort, the ideal first material to be scooped would consist of fine to very fine sand, like the interior of the Serpent Dune studied by the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Spirit team in 2004 [1]. The MSL team selected a linear eolian deposit in the lee of a group of cobbles they named Rocknest (Fig. 1) as likely to be similar to Serpent Dune. Following the definitions in Chapter 13 of Bagnold [2], the deposit is termed a sand shadow. The scooping campaign occurred over approximately 6 weeks in October and November 2012. To support these activities, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) acquired images for engineering support/assessment and scientific inquiry.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-27937 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; Mar 18, 2013 - Mar 22, 2013; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: MAHLI (Mars Hand Lens Imager) is a 2-megapixel focusable macro lens color camera on the turret on Curiosity's robotic arm. The investigation centers on stratigraphy, grain-scale texture, structure, mineralogy, and morphology of geologic materials at Curiosity's Gale robotic field site. MAHLI acquires focused images at working distances of 2.1 cm to infinity; for reference, at 2.1 cm the scale is 14 microns/pixel; at 6.9 cm it is 31 microns/pixel, like the Spirit and Opportunity Microscopic Imager (MI) cameras.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC 2013); Mar 18, 2013 - Mar 22, 2013; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Alpha Particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) on the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater [1] is the 4th such instrument to have landed on Mars [2]. Along the rover's traverse down-section toward Glenelg (through sol 102), the APXS has examined four rocks and one soil [3]. Gale rocks are geochemically diverse and expand the range of Martian rock compositions to include high volatile and alkali contents (up to 3.0 wt% K2O) with high Fe and Mn (up to 29.2% FeO*).
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-27938 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; Mar 18, 2013 - Mar 22, 2013; TheWoodlands, TX; United States
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-19
    Description: Comets retain relatively primitive icy material remaining from the epoch of Solar System formation, however the extent to which they are modified from their initial state remains a key question in cometary science. High-resolution lR spectroscopy has emerged as a powerful tool for measuring vibrational emissions from primary volatiles (i.e., those contained in the nuclei of comets). With modern instrumentation, most notably NIRSPEC at the Keck II 10-m telescope, we can quantify species of astrobiological importance (e.g., H20, C2H2, CH4, C2H6, CO, H2CO, CH30H, HCN, NH3). In space environments, compounds of keen interest to astrobiology could originate from HCN and NH3 (leading to amino acids), H2CO (leading to sugars), or C2H6 and CH4 (suggested precursors of ethyl- and methylamine). Measuring the abundances of these precursor molecules (and their variability among comets) is a feasible task that contributes to understanding their delivery to Earth's early biosphere and to the synthesis of more complex pre biotic compounds. Over 20 comets have now been measured with IR spectroscopy, and this sample reveals significant diversity in primary volatile compositions. From this, a taxonomic classification scheme is emerging, presumably reflecting the diverse conditions experienced by pre-cometary grains in interstellar and subsequent nebular environs. The importance of H-atom addition to C2H2 on the surfaces of interstellar grains to produce C2H6 was validated by the discovery of abundant ethane in comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) with C2H6/CH4 well above that achievable by gas-phase chemistry , and then in irradiation experiments on laboratory ices at 10 - 50 K. The large abundance ratios C2H6/CH4 observed universally in comets establish H-atom addition as an important and likely ubiquitous process, and comparing C2H6/C2H2 among comets can provide information on its efficiency. The IR is uniquely capable since symmetric hydrocarbons (e.g., C2H2, CH4, C2H6) have no electric dipole moment and thus no allowed pure rotational transitions. CO should also be hydrogenated on grain surfaces. Irradiation experiments on interstellar ice analogs show this to require very low temperatures, the resulting yields of H2CO and CH30H being highly dependent on temperature in the range approx 10 - 25 K. The relative abundances of these chemically-related molecules in comets provide one measure of the efficiency of H-atom addition to CO Oxidation of CO is also important on grain mantles, as evidenced by the widespread presence of C02 ice towards interstellar sources observed with ISO and in a survey of 17 comets observed with AKARI. H-atom addition to C2H2 produces the vinyl radical, and through subsequent oxidation1reduction reactions can lead to vinyl alcohol, acetaldehyde, and ethanol This may have implications for interpreting observed abundance ratios CO/C2H2. We will discuss possible implications regarding formation conditions in the context of measured primary volatile compositions, emphasizing recently observed comets and published results. These are continually providing new insights regarding our taxonomic scheme and also delivery of pre-biological material to the young Earth.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: GSFC.ABS.00317.2012 , Astrobiology Science Conference 2012; Apr 16, 2012 - Apr 20, 2012; Atlanta, GA; United States
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Several hydrated silicate deposits on Mars are observed within craters and are interpreted as excavated Noachian material. Toro crater (71.8 deg E, 17.0 deg N), located on the northern edge of the Syrtis Major Volcanic Plains, shows spectral and morphologic evidence of impact-induced hydrothermal activity. Spectroscopic observations were used to identify extensive hydrated silicate deposits, including prehnite, chlorites, smectites, and opaline material, a suite of phases that frequently results from hydrothermal alteration in terrestrial craters and also expected on Mars from geochemical modeling of hydrothermal environments. When combined with altimetry and high-resolution imaging data, these deposits appear associated predominantly with the central uplift and with portions of the northern part of the crater floor. Detailed geologic mapping of these deposits reveals geomorphic features that are consistent with hydrothermal activity that followed the impact event, including vent-like and conical mound structures, and a complex network of tectonic structures caused by fluid interactions such as fractures and joints. The crater age has been calculated from the cumulative crater size-frequency distributions and is found to be Early Hesperian. The evidence presented here provides support for impact-induced hydrothermal activity in Toro crater, that extends phyllosilicate formation processes beyond the Noachian era.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Icarus; 208; 667-683
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We report measurements of eight primary volatiles (H2O, HCN, CH4, C2H6, CH3OH, C2H2, H2CO, and NH3) and two product species (OH and NH2) in comet 103P/Hartley-2 using high dispersion infrared spectroscopy. We present production rates for individual volatiles species, their mixing ratios relative to water, and their spatial distributions in the coma on multiple dates that span the interval Sept. - Dec. 2010. The production rates vary strongly with nucleus rotation, but the mixing ratios remain constant throughout the campaign. The released primary volatiles exhibit diverse spatial properties which favor the presence of separate polar and apolar ice phases in the nucleus, establish dust and gas release from icy clumps (and also, directly from the nucleus), and provide insights into the driver for the cyanogen (CN) polar jet.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: GSFC.OVPR.4972.2011 , 43rd Annual DPS Meeting; Oct 02, 2011 - Oct 07, 2011; Nantes; France
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Based on published lunar soil grain size distribution data, we estimate that 1-3% of the mass of typical mature lunar soils is comprised of grains less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These particles are in the respirable range (small enough to be inhaled). Estimates are used because the early methods of obtaining grain size distributions did not give reliable results below about 10 micrometers. Grain size analyses of Apollo 11 soil 10084 by a laser diffraction technique shows that this soil contains roughly 2% by volume in the respirable grain size, in agreement with our prior estimate.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: JSC-CN-19518 , Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; Mar 01, 2010 - Mar 05, 2010; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Mercury's regolith, derived from the crustal bedrock, has been altered by a set of space weathering processes. Before we can interpret crustal composition, it is necessary to understand the nature of these surface alterations. The processes that space weather the surface are the same as those that form Mercury's exosphere (micrometeoroid flux and solar wind interactions) and are moderated by the local space environment and the presence of a global magnetic field. To comprehend how space weathering acts on Mercury's regolith, an understanding is needed of how contributing processes act as an interactive system. As no direct information (e.g., from returned samples) is available about how the system of space weathering affects Mercury's regolith, we use as a basis for comparison the current understanding of these same processes on lunar and asteroidal regoliths as well as laboratory simulations. These comparisons suggest that Mercury's regolith is overturned more frequently (though the characteristic surface time for a grain is unknown even relative to the lunar case), more than an order of magnitude more melt and vapor per unit time and unit area is produced by impact processes than on the Moon (creating a higher glass content via grain coatings and agglutinates), the degree of surface irradiation is comparable to or greater than that on the Moon, and photon irradiation is up to an order of magnitude greater (creating amorphous grain rims, chemically reducing the upper layers of grains to produce nanometer scale particles of metallic iron, and depleting surface grains in volatile elements and alkali metals). The processes that chemically reduce the surface and produce nanometer-scale particles on Mercury are suggested to be more effective than similar processes on the Moon. Estimated abundances of nanometer-scale particles can account for Mercury's dark surface relative to that of the Moon without requiring macroscopic grains of opaque minerals. The presence of nanometer-scale particles may also account for Mercury's relatively featureless visible-near-infrared reflectance spectra. Characteristics of material returned from asteroid 25143 Itokawa demonstrate that this nanometer-scale material need not be pure iron, raising the possibility that the nanometer-scale material on Mercury may have a composition different from iron metal [such as (Fe,Mg)S]. The expected depletion of volatiles and particularly alkali metals from solar-wind interaction processes are inconsistent with the detection of sodium, potassium, and sulfur within the regolith. One plausible explanation invokes a larger fine fraction (grain size less than 45 micron) and more radiation-damaged grains than in the lunar surface material to create a regolith that is a more efficient reservoir for these volatiles. By this view the volatile elements detected are present not only within the grain structures, but also as adsorbates within the regolith and deposits on the surfaces of the regolith grains. The comparisons with findings from the Moon and asteroids provide a basis for predicting how compositional modifications induced by space weathering have affected Mercury's surface composition.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN16346 , Space Science Reviews; 181; 4-Jan; 121-214
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The NASA Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS) at JPL offers graduate students and young professionals a unique opportunity to learn about the mission design process. Program participants select and design a mission based on a recent NASA Science Mission Directorate Announcement of Opportunity (AO). Starting with the AO, in this case the 2009 New Frontiers AO, participants generate a set of science goals and develop a early mission concept to accomplish those goals within the constraints provided. As part of the 2010 NASA PSSS, the Ganymede Interior, Surface, and Magnetosphere Observer (GISMO) team developed a preliminary satellite design for a science mission to Jupiter's moon Ganymede. The science goals for this design focused on studying the icy moon's magnetosphere, internal structure, surface composition, geological processes, and atmosphere. By the completion of the summer school an instrument payload was selected and the necessary mission requirements were developed to deliver a spacecraft to Ganymede that would accomplish the defined science goals. This poster will discuss those science goals, the proposed spacecraft and the proposed mission design of this New Frontiers class Ganymede observer.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; Mar 07, 2011 - Mar 11, 2011; The Woodlands, TX; United States
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We present new observations of pyroclastic deposits on the surface of Mercury from data acquired during the orbital phase of the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission. The global analysis of pyroclastic deposits brings the total number of such identified features from 40 to 51. Some 90% of pyroclastic deposits are found within impact craters. The locations of most pyroclastic deposits appear to be unrelated to regional smooth plains deposits, except some deposits cluster around the margins of smooth plains, similar to the relation between many lunar pyroclastic deposits and lunar maria. A survey of the degradation state of the impact craters that host pyroclastic deposits suggests that pyroclastic activity occurred on Mercury over a prolonged interval. Measurements of surface reflectance by MESSENGER indicate that the pyroclastic deposits are spectrally distinct from their surrounding terrain, with higher reflectance values, redder (i.e., steeper) spectral slopes, and a downturn at wavelengths shorter than approximately 400nm (i.e., in the near-ultraviolet region of the spectrum). Three possible causes for these distinctive characteristics include differences in transition metal content, physical properties (e.g., grain size), or degree of space weathering from average surface material on Mercury. The strength of the near-ultraviolet downturn varies among spectra of pyroclastic deposits and is correlated with reflectance at visible wavelengths. We suggest that this interdeposit variability in reflectance spectra is the result of either variable amounts of mixing of the pyroclastic deposits with underlying material or inherent differences in chemical and physical properties among pyroclastic deposits.
    Keywords: Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN21209 , Geophysical Research Letters (ISSN 0094-8276); 119; 3; 635–658
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