MARCI weather report, February 13-19, 2017

feb-15-2017Mars continued to display local-scale storm activity for the past week. Repeated dust storms were observed over Amazonis and near the Phlegra Montes. The northern part of the Acidalia storm-track also experienced short-lived dust storms near Tempe and Chryse. Further north, dust and water-ice clouds continued to propagate eastward along the polar hood. Apart from some dust hazes over southern Noachis, Cimmeria, and Aonia, the southern highlands remained relatively uneventful. Each afternoon, water-ice clouds endured over… [More at link, including video]

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HiRISE: Layered mantling deposits in the northern mid-latitudes

ESP_048897_2125Ice-rich mantling deposits accumulate from the atmosphere in the Martian mid-latitudes in cycles during periods of high obliquity (axial tilt), as recently as several million years ago.

These deposits accumulate over cycles in layers, and here in the southern mid-latitudes, where the deposits have mostly eroded away due to warmer temperatures, small patches of the remnant layered deposits can still be observed. [More at link]

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Curiosity update: Re-attempt the drive

NRB_540952862EDR_F0610934NCAM07753M_Sol 1617, February 22, 2017, update by USGS scientist Ken Herkenhoff: The drive planned for Sol 1616 halted early, apparently because the right rear wheel got stuck between two rocks.  The mobility team concluded that it is safe to continue, so the drive planned for Sol 1617 is essentially the same as the previously-planned drive.  Before the drive, ChemCam and Right Mastcam will observe a sand target named “New Sweden” and Right Mastcam will acquire mosaics of a layered bedrock outcrop dubbed “Hobbstown” and of the dunes that are the target of the drive. Mastcam will also measure dust in the atmosphere… [More at link]

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THEMIS: Pages from the south polar climate history book

Pages from the south polar history book (THEMIS_IOTD_20170222)THEMIS Image of the Day, February 22, 2017. Today’s VIS image shows part of the south polar cap. It is now summer in the region and the surface frosts are gone. The layers of ice comprising the cap are now fully visible. Scientists are seeking to use the layers’ thickness and spacing to decipher the history of the martian climate recorded in them.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Obstacles and wakes in lava

ESP_048745_2095Amazonis Planitia is a broad plain on Mars, covered with ancient lava. This image shows an interesting feature of an old lava flow.

When it was mostly liquid, the lava had a crust of cooled debris floating on the surface. Here, the crust just barely scraped over some hills. The flow was able to make it past the hills, but the rubble crust was caught and piled up, forming thick masses of debris.

Downstream from the hills, there was no crust left and the lava formed a smoother, fresh surface. Observations like this tell us about the scale of the lava flow (which must have been a huge sheet) and also which direction it was moving at the time when the crust interacted with the hills. [More at link]

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HiRISE: Terminal lobes of a large debris flow in Melas Chasma

tumblr_ol9vzlXF9P1rlz4gso1_1280Terminal lobes of a large debris flow in Melas Chasma.

Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Looking into sunrise shadows

Peeking into sunrise shadows (THEMIS_IOTD_20170221)THEMIS Image of the Day, February 21, 2017. Over the course of the Odyssey mission, the spacecraft has flown covering the surface at many different times of local day. Right now Odyssey is looking down along the day/night terminator, seeing dawn and dusk. One of the benefits from imaging at these times of day (and lower sun angles) is seeing shadows. This VIS image shows the sunrise shadow of the crater rim on the crater floor.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: New crater on a dusty slope

ESP_048686_1785This image shows a new impact site originally detected by the Context Camera onboard MRO. The crater is on a dusty slope, which also has several dark slope streaks due to dust avalanches.

A previous impact at another place on Mars triggered a major dust avalanche, but this one did not. This tells us that the dust here is more stable (stronger and/or on a lower slope). [More at link]

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Curiosity: MAHLI puts in a night’s work

FRB_540868149EDR_F0610924FHAZ00341M_1615-mahliSol 1615, February 20, 2017. At about 1:30 p.m., the Hazcam recorded the instrument arm on the rock in front of Curiosity.

In the dead of night, 10 hours earlier, the MAHLI turned on its LED light and shot a five-frame composite of the rock surface, at right. Note the rough texture and loose round pebbles. (Click image [3 MB] to enlarge it.)

Sol 1615 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location.

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THEMIS: Dust devil tracks in Aonia Terra

Dust devil tracks in Aonia (THEMIS_IOTD_20170220)THEMIS Image of the Day, February 20, 2017. Today’s VIS image shows dust devil tracks on the plains of Aonia Terra. As the dust devil moves across the surface it scours the fine dust particles, revealing the darker rock surface below.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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