“The sun is operating as a pump, which ‘activates’ in the daytime and helps water reach heights of over 60 kilometers above the ground. During a dust storm, the concentration of moisture in the air and airflow speed are higher, and therefore, the ‘pump’ is able to lift water higher up,” said Dmitry Shaposhnikov, researcher at the Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology about data obtained from the U.S. satellite MAVEN (short for “Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN”) and the Hubble Space Telescope showing a periodic stream of hydrogen atoms escaping the planet.
“We spent the last week checking out Side A and preparing it for the swap,” said Steven Lee of JPL, Curiosity’s deputy project manager. “It’s certainly possible to run the mission on the Side-A computer if we really need to. But our plan is to switch back to Side B as soon as we can fix the problem to utilize its larger memory size.”
“The mission of the 2020 rover is to look for the signs of past life,” said Jack Mustard, a leading expert in Planetary Surfaces and Environments at Brown University. “Areas where you may have remnants of this underground habitable zone—which may have been the largest habitable zone on the planet—seem like a good place to target.”
After snagging a new rock sample on Aug. 9, NASA’s Curiosity rover surveyed its surroundings on Mars, producing a 360-degree panorama of its current location on Vera Rubin Ridge under umber skies, darkened by a fading global dust storm. Curiosity is poised to drive to its scientific end zone: areas enriched in clay and sulfate minerals higher up Mount Sharp. That ascent is planned for early October.
As of Aug. 20, NASA’s InSight spacecraft had covered 172 million miles (277 million kilometers) since its launch 107 days ago. In another 98 days, it will travel another 129 million miles (208 million kilometers) and touch down in Mars’ Elysium Planitia region, where it will be the first mission to study the Red Planet’s deep interior. InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.