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Mars Exploration Family Portrait February 5, 2013

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File:Mars-exploration-family-portrait-version3.jpg

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Credit:

Jason Davis, http://www.astrosaur.us

PIA15283: Dunes in Noachis Terra Region of Mars January 25, 2012

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http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpegMod/PIA15283_modest.jpg
Description:

This enhanced-color image shows sand dunes trapped in an impact crater in Noachis Terra, Mars. Dunes and sand ripples of various shapes and sizes display the natural beauty created by physical processes. The area covered in the image is about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) across.

Sand dunes are among the most widespread wind-formed features on Mars. Their distribution and shapes are affected by changes in wind direction and wind strength. Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insight into the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain.

The image is one product from an observation by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera taken on Nov. 29, 2011, at 42 degrees south latitude, 42 degrees east longitude. Other image products from the same observation are at http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_025042_1375.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates the orbiter’s HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Image Addition Date:

2012-01-25

PIA15282: Opportunity’s Eighth Anniversary View From ‘Greeley Haven’ (False Color) January 24, 2012

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This false-color mosaic of images shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named 'Greeley Haven.'
Description:

This mosaic of images taken in mid-January 2012 shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named “Greeley Haven.”

Opportunity’s Panoramic Camera (Pancam) took the component images as part of full-circle view being assembled from Greeley Haven.

The view includes sand ripples and other wind-sculpted features in the foreground and mid-field. The northern edge of the the “Cape York” segment of the rim of Endeavour Crater forms an arc across the upper half of the scene.

Opportunity landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, Universal Time and EST (Jan. 24, PST). It has driven 21.4 miles (34.4 kilometers) as of its eighth anniversary on the planet. In late 2011, the rover team drove Opportunity up onto Greeley Haven to take advantage of the outcrop’s sun-facing slope to boost output from the rover’s dusty solar panels during the Martian winter.

Research activities while at Greeley Haven include a radio-science investigation of the interior of Mars, inspections of mineral compositions and textures on the outcrop, and monitoring of wind-caused changes on scales from dunes to individual soil particles.

The image combines exposures taken through Pancam filters centered on wavelengths of 753 nanometers (near infrared), 535 nanometers (green) and 432 nanometers (violet). The view is presented in false color to make some differences between materials easier to see.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. More information about Opportunity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/Arizona State Univ.

MSL Launches to the Red Planet November 26, 2011

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MSL launch
Credit:

NASA/Darrell L. McCall

Description:

The Atlantic Ocean provides a backdrop as the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket clears the tower at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Sealed inside the rocket’s protective payload fairing is NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, beginning a 9-month interplanetary cruise to Mars. Liftoff was at 10:02 a.m. EST Nov. 26. MSL’s components include a car-sized rover, Curiosity, which has 10 science instruments designed to search for signs of life, including methane, and help determine if the gas is from a biological or geological source.

The Crazy Floor of Hellas Basin July 30, 2011

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The Crazy Floor of Hellas Basin

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Explanation:

The deep floor of Hellas impact basin is often obscured by haze, but at times we get some clear views. There are some strange landforms down there, and this image is one example.

The image covers the rim region of a crater that appears filled in, perhaps by river sediment (the rim is breached by a channel). The colors (see enhanced color subimage) indicate that diverse minerals are present.

Written by:

Alfred McEwen   (27 July 2011)

Gale Crater July 30, 2011

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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit: 

NASAJPL-CaltechASU

Explanation: 

This sharp view from the Thermal Emission Imaging System camera on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter is centered on 154 kilometer (96 mile) wide Gale crater, near the martian equator. Within Gale, an impressive layered mountain rises about 5 kilometers (3 miles) above the crater floor. Layers and structures near its base are thought to have been formed in ancient times by water-carried sediments. In fact, a spot near the crater’s northern side at the foot of the mountain has now been chosen as the target for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Scheduled for launch late this year, the mission will landMars’ next visitor from planet Earth in August of 2012, lowering the car-sized Curiosity rover to the martian surface with a hovering, rocket-powered skycrane. Curiosity’s science instruments are intended to discover if Gale once had favorable environmental conditions for supporting microbial life and for preserving clues about whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Opportunity at Santa Maria Crater January 31, 2011

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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.
Credit:

Mars Exploration Rover Mission, NASA, JPL, Cornell; Image Processing: Marco Di Lorenzo, Kenneth Kremer

Explanation:

Celebrating 7 years on the surface of the Red Planet, Mars exploration rover Opportunity now stands near the rim of 90 meter wide Santa Maria crater. Remarkably, Opportunity and its fellow rover Spirit were initially intended for a 3 month long primary mission. Still exploring, the golf cart-sized robot and shadow (far right) appear in the foreground of this panoramic view of its current location. The mosaic was constructed using images from the rover’s navigation camera. On its 7 year anniversary, Opportunity can boast traversing a total of 26.7 kilometers along the martian surface. After investigating Santa Maria crater, controllers plan to have Opportunity resume a long-term trek toward Endeavour crater, a large, 22 kilometer diameter crater about 6 kilometers from Santa Maria. The rim of Endeavour is visible in the mosaic on the horizon at the right, just above the shadow of the rover’s mast. During coming days, communication with the rover will be more difficult as Mars moves close to alignment with the Sun as seen from planet Earth’s perspective.

A Dark Dune Field in Proctor Crater on Mars November 28, 2010

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See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Credit:

HiRISE, MRO, LPL (U. Arizona), NASA

Explanation:

Was this image taken with a telescope or a microscope? Perhaps this clue will help: if the dark forms were bacteria, they would each span over football field across. What is actually being seen are large sand dunes on the floor of Proctor Crater on Mars. The above picture was taken by HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a robot spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars. The dark rippled dunes likely formed more recently than the lighter rock forms they appear to cover, and are thought to slowly shift in response to pervasive winds. The dunes arise from a complex relationship between the sandy surface and high winds on Mars. Similar dunes were first seen in Proctor Crater by Mariner 9 more than 35 years ago.

Eroding Layers in an Impact Crater February 13, 2010

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Eroding Layers in an Impact Crater

Credit:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona, Colin Dundas

Description:

This image shows a stack of layers on the floor of an impact crater roughly 30 kilometers across. Many of the layers appear to be extremely thin, and barely resolved.

In broad view, it is clear that the deposit is eroding into a series of ridges, likely due to the wind. Below the ridges, additional dark-toned layered deposits crop out. These exhibit a variety of textures, some of which may be due to transport of material.

The light ridges are often capped by thin dark layers, and similar layers are exposed on the flanks of the ridges. These layers are likely harder than the rest of the material, and so armor the surface against erosion. They are shedding boulders which roll down the slope, as shown in the subimage. Although these cap layers are relatively resistant, the boulders do not seem to accumulate at the base of the slope, so it is likely that they also disintegrate relatively quickly.

The subimage itself is 250 meters wide. The light is from the left. Boulders are visible on the slopes of the ridges along with thin dark layers including the cap layer, but they are absent on the spurs where the resistant cover has been eroded. This demonstrates that the boulders come only from the dark layers, and are not embedded in the rest of the deposit.

Bright Layered Deposits January 16, 2010

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Mars

Description:

Martian landforms have been shaped by winds, water, lava flow, seasonal icing and other forces over millennia. This view shows color variations in bright layered deposits on a plateau near Juventae Chasma in the Valles Marineris region of Mars. A brown mantle covers portions of the bright deposits. Researchers have found that these bright layered deposits contain opaline silica and iron sulfates.

Image Credit:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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