The Colors of Mars – NASA’s Mars Exploration Program


This image was taken by Mast Camera (Mastcam) aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover on Sol 3230. Credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS. Download image ›

One of our ChemCam LIBS targets in today’s plan is called “Chocolate Bloc”. And besides making me hungry, it reminded me of the wide color gamut of Mars. Colors ranging from the dazzling white of its polar caps to the deep chocolate browns of the sand dunes, passing through a thousand shades of red, pink, beige and yellow. It reminded me of a scene in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy where the characters try to identify all the different colors they see outside of the planet’s surface. But color is often in the eye of the beholder, and making it as uniform as possible, so that different locations can be properly compared, is important work. Mastcam regularly takes photos of its calibration target (now very dusty and apparently uniform in color) for this purpose (this is the most recent from last weekend).

In addition to getting the Chocolate Block measurement, our main goal this weekend is for SAM to study the material for our Maria Gordon drill hole. SAM will heat the material to very high temperatures to determine what it is made of and how water may have interacted with rock in the distant past. We will also do a variety of imagery with Mastcam and ChemCam long distance image of Rafael Navarro mountain.

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