HiRISE: Coprates Chasma dune field

tumblr_nfcjg4eu8q1rlz4gso1_1280Coprates Chasma dune field. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Sirenum Fossae

Sirenum Fossae (THEMIS_IOTD_20141121)THEMIS Image of the Day, November 21, 2014. The linear features in this VIS image are graben (fault bounded depressions). The graben are part of Sirenum Fossae.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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NASA names Mars Exploration Program Director

JimWatzin20141121-16 Jim Watzin has been named the new director for the agency’s Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Watzin, whose duties begin Dec. 1, succeeds Jim Green, NASA’s planetary sciences chief who had been the acting Mars director since December 2012.

“Jim brings the right leadership at the right time to the Mars program,” said Green. “His experience and creativity will be instrumental in making the Mars 2020 rover a reality, guiding the success of the missions leading up to it, and bridging the gap from science to the future human exploration of the Red Planet. We’re excited to have him join us.” [More at link]

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HiRISE: Up close and personal in Cerberus Fossae

tumblr_nfbap6D5FL1rlz4gso1_1280Up close and personal in Cerberus Fossae. Beautiful Mars series.

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HiRISE: Crater surrounded by lava flow

tumblr_nf1floyq361rlz4gso2_1280Crater surrounded by lava flow material in Elysium Planitia. Beautiful Mars series.

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MAVEN: Safing event, November 19

maven_mars_flyoverMAVEN went into safehold mode on Wednesday, November 19. The spacecraft goes into this state autonomously, when it detects a problem with its operations, to ensure that it stays safe and in contact with Earth. Safehold was triggered by a timing conflict between commands…. [More at link]

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Mars Orbiter Mission: Comet Siding Spring

10365890_1571634429726580_1505040421418773839_nNovember 12, 2014: Comet Siding Spring, taken by the Mars Color Camera. The streak in top-center image may be a jet from the nucleus, which is out of the frame. [More at link]

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Curiosity update: ‘Another busy day at Book Cliffs’

0814MH0001900010301242C00_DXXXSol 815, November 20, 2014, update from USGS Scientist Lauren Edgar: “Over the past few sols Curiosity has been investigating the Book Cliffs outcrop at the Pahrump Hills. On Sol 814, Curiosity brushed off the dust at “Afton Canyon” as seen in this MAHLI image [right]. Today’s plan is focused on characterizing the upper part of Book Cliffs. ChemCam is back in action after a brief stand-down… [More at link]

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Opportunity field report: November 20, 2014

6_3848_Navsetting-brSol 3848 (November 20, 2014) Rover Field Report by Larry Crumpler, MER Science Team & New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science: “Opportunity finished up its work on Wdowiak Ridge and has now continued southward along the rim of Endeavour crater….  But here there is an unusual linear outcrop trending almost at right angles to the crater rim. It is a potential deep-seated fracture along which aqueous fluid moved a long time ago. So we thought that we should give it a good checkout….” [More at link]

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Opportunity: Sitting pretty in a fracture

3846-trough1Sol 3846, November 18, 2014. The rover is parked in a fracture trough that extends roughly east-west. This Navcam two-frame view (above) looks uphill to the east, with the rim crest on the horizon. Note the raised edges of the trough.

1P469621469ESFCJL1P2509L5M1annOpportunity’s drive brought it to a halt at a place where a small mineral vein (arrow, right) lies in the trough, precisely placed by good fortune where the instrument arm can go to work on it. Pancam image.

Opportunity raw images, its latest mission status, a location map. and atmospheric opacity, known as tau.

 

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Curiosity update: ‘More contact science at Book Cliffs’

FLB_469684175EDR_F0441546FHAZ00210M_Sol 814, November 19, 2014, update from USGS Scientist Lauren Edgar: “Curiosity is still investigating the Book Cliffs outcrop on our second pass at the Pahrump Hills.  To learn more about Curiosity’s activities at the Pahrump Hills, check out this recent press release.  I’m on duty as the Geology and Mineralogy Science Theme Lead again today. It turns out that I was also on duty when we were at Book Cliffs on the first pass, so it’s starting to feel a little like Groundhog Day. But it’s an interesting outcrop, and we’ve been able to acquire a lot of great data here… [More at links]

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THEMIS: South polar textures

South polar cap layers and textures (THEMIS_IOTD_20141120)THEMIS Image of the Day, November 20, 2014. This VIS image of the south polar cap shows many different surface textures as well as layering.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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MARCI weather report: November 10-16, 2014

releaseimg_141110_141116Storm activity was relatively calm last week, with sporadic dust-lifting events occurring off the seasonal south polar cap edge in Sirenum, Noachis, and Cimmeria. Diffuse water ice clouds comprising the north polar hood were visible over the northern plains, and cloud cover was also present over Arsia Mons… [More at link, incuding video]

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MAVEN begins primary science mission

maven_mars_sunriseThe MAVEN spacecraft completed its commissioning activities on November 16 and has formally begun its one-year primary science mission. The start of science is actually a “soft start”, in that the instruments started making science measurements beginning almost as soon as we were in orbit, and some instrument calibration activities will be continuing throughout the mission… [More at link]

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Early Mars warmth, flowing water: episodic only

141117130603-largeHow to reconcile indisputable evidence of flowing water on Mars with severely low temperatures? New research shows volcanism and greenhouse gas could have warmed the planet sufficiently, but only for tens or hundreds of years at a time. Ample evidence of ancient rivers, streams, and lakes make it clear that Mars was at some point warm enough for liquid water to flow on its surface. While that may conjure up images of a tropical Martian paradise, new research published in Nature Geoscience throws a bit of cold water on that notion.

The study, by scientists from Brown University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, suggests that warmth and water flow on ancient Mars were probably episodic, related to brief periods of volcanic activity that spewed tons of greenhouse-inducing sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere. The work, which combines the effect of volcanism with the latest climate models of early Mars, suggests that periods of temperatures warm enough for water to flow likely lasted for only tens or hundreds of years at a time.  [More at links]

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