Astrogeology Science Center

NASA’s Verdict: Say Your Goodbyes to Cassini

11 September 2017

On September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft will be put to death. Scientists preplanned the spacecraft to crash into Saturn and Cassini will disintegrate in a burst of searing flame. Sadly, this will end its phenomenal journey of the exploration of the Saturn system. The demise of Cassini… Read More

The Science of Dunes: Where to Get Involved!

8 September 2017

During this past May, many of the world’s leading dune authorities met in St. George, Utah to attend the Fifth International Planetary Dunes Workshop. If you weren’t there--then you missed out on some fun. Scientists and students meet at this biannual workshop to engage in… Read More

The Autobiography of Oppenheimer Crater

25 August 2017

Oppenheimer crater, at 35.2°S, 166.3°W on the far side of the Moon, shows features such as cracks and low, dark-haloed volcanoes that suggest it must have lived an interesting young life to a ripe-old crater age. During its youth, I imagine it would rumble, swell, crack, hiss, blow smoke,… Read More

Sol 1795: Skirting around Vera Rubin Ridge

23 August 2017

Curiosity is now tantalizingly close to climbing up Vera Rubin Ridge.  For the past several weeks we have been skirting around the ridge, documenting sedimentary structures and bedrock composition along the way as we work toward our intended ascent route.  Today’s plan provided… Read More

Upcoming Full Solar Eclipse in the U.S.

18 August 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017, is drawing near when you can see the Moon completely cover the blazing sun, casting a shadow on Earth’s surface in a Total Solar Eclipse! This rare and spectacular view can be seen across the entire continent, although most people in the U.S., if not in the path of… Read More

Sol 1786: ChemCam anomaly

14 August 2017

MSL drove over 32 meters last weekend, to a sandy area with a few bedrock blocks, but ChemCam suffered an anomaly and was marked sick after the acquisition of the first RMI mosaic of Vera Rubin Ridge.  The instrument is in a safe state and turned off, but no other ChemCam observations were… Read More

Watching a Sleeping Giant

14 August 2017

Sleeping giants, like the supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park, can reawaken even after many thousands of years have passed since their last eruption. Cataclysmic eruptions, like the one 630,000 years ago, could severely damage human infrastructure across half a continent and… Read More

Astrogeology Services No One Told You About

4 August 2017

The USGS Astrogeology Science Center (often called Astro) performs research as well as maintains and provides technical expertise in the planetary sciences. One of their legacies is that Astro was involved with the Apollo astronauts' training in preparation to go to the Moon and they have their… Read More

Sol 1777: Easing back into mission planning

4 August 2017

As the solar conjunction stand-down comes to an end, we are easing back into operations planning, focusing on Sol 1780, which will be planned in detail on Monday.  There was no SOWG meeting today, so it was a very easy day for me as SOWG Chair:  We discussed plans for next week and… Read More

Meteor Impact: Preserving the Evidence

28 July 2017

Can you imagine a blazing meteor nearly 160 feet in diameter and weighing 100,000 tons, traveling at a speed of 45,000 mph, crashing into the ground in front of you? It’s not something most people would enjoy imagining! But on those rare occasions, once every few million years, this can… Read More