After collecting drilled rock powder in arguably the most scenic landscape yet visited by a Mars rover, NASA's Curiosity mobile laboratory is driving toward uphill destinations as part of its two-year mission extension that commenced Oct. 1.
NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, is working adeptly in some of the most challenging terrain of the vehicle's 12 years on Mars, on a slope of about 30 degrees.
Researchers are using Opportunity this month to examine rocks that may have been chemically altered by water billions of years ago. The mission's current targets of investigation are from ruddy-tinted swaths the researchers call "red zones," in contrast to tan bedrock around these zones.
The targets lie on "Knudsen Ridge," atop the southern flank of "Marathon Valley," which slices through the western rim of Endeavour Crater.
Humans use glasses to help them see better, but for robots, the fix is in their code. NASA is asking coders to create algorithms for Robonaut 2, or R2, that will improve its 3-D vision. The Robonaut Vision Tool Manipulation contest kicks off on Feb. 23, and offers a total of $10,000 in prizes for the best algorithms.
R2 is the first humanoid robot in space, currently being tested on the International Space Station. Serving as an extra set of hands for station crew members, the robot is looking to help with the more mundane or repetitive tasks that are required for maintaining the million-pound laboratory, freeing up its human colleagues for critical science and repair work. For example, R2 manages inventory using an RFID reader and fastens bolts with a drill.
As you may have noticed there is now a Twitter feed on the right side of the Robotic Alliance Project's webpage! We would like to invite everyone to follow us on twitter and help spread the word about the Robotics Alliance Project and NASA! We plan on using Twitter to post about announcements, new features, and much more!