Commercial data-relay satellites for Mars

mars20140723-fullNASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the possibility of using commercial Mars-orbiting satellites to provide telecommunications capabilities for future robotic missions to the Red Planet. “We are looking to broaden participation in the exploration of Mars to include new models for government and commercial partnerships,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Depending on the outcome, the new model could be a vital component in future science missions and the path for humans to Mars.”  [More at link]

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MARCI weather report: July 14-20, 2014

releaseimg_140714_140720This week several storms in the northern plains merged into a regional storm that spread across most of the northern mid-latitudes and persisted for several days throughout the week. Dust from the regional storm was observed from latitudes over the north polar residual cap to south into Acidalia…. [More at link, including video]

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Opportunity: Sol 3730, July 22, 2014

3730-panIn late afternoon, the Navcam looks south toward Cape Tribulation.

Opportunity raw images, its latest mission status, and a location map. (A shortcut to Sol 3730 Navcam images is here.)

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Curiosity: Sol 696, July 22, 2014

0696MH0002270000204115R00_DXXXThe rover’s hand-lens imager (MAHLI) captures a rock with a striated surface and material filling a fracture.

Sol 696 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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HiRISE: Channel with dark sediments

tumblr_n92picF7ef1rlz4gso1_1280Channel with dark sediments in Terra Cimmeria. Beautiful Mars series.

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THEMIS: Lyot Crater dunes

Lyot Crater dunes (THEMIS_IOTD_20140723)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 23, 2014. The dunes in this VIS image are located on the floor of Lyot Crater.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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HiRISE: Valleys carved into southern Arsia Mons

tumblr_n92p5o4mPt1rlz4gso1_1280Valleys carved into southern Arsia Mons. Beautiful Mars series.

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HiRISE: Angry red scarp

tumblr_n92opjo25v1rlz4gso1_1280Such an angry red scarp. Beautiful Mars series.

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Opportunity: Sol 3729, July 21, 2014

looking-westLooking west over sand ripples onto Meridiani Planum with the Navcam (three-frame composite). At left is part of Cape Tribulation.

Opportunity raw images, its latest mission status, and a location map. (A shortcut to Sol 3729 Navcam images is here.)

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Curiosity: Sol 696, July 22, 2014

696-hidden-valleyRough driving ahead, as the rover rolls toward Hidden Valley (dark area at top center), its route down off the caprock of Zabriskie Plateau (two-frame Navcam composite).

NASA description (left image): This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 696 (2014-07-22 06:37:57 UTC).

Sol 696 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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Curiosity update: ‘Using every instrument’

Sol 696, July 21, 2014, update on Curiosity from USGS scientist Ryan Anderson: “We’re slowly picking our way across the rugged cap-rock of Zabriskie Plateau. Over the weekend we drove 23.4 m while also managing to use every single…” [More at link]

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THEMIS: Coloe Fossae

Channels of Coloe Fossae (THEMIS_IOTD_20140722)THEMIS Image of the Day, July 22, 2014. The channels in this VIS image are part of Coloe Fossae, a series of linear depressions on the northeast margin of Terra Sabaea.

More THEMIS Images of the Day by geological topic.

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Curiosity: Sol 695, July 21, 2014

hidden-valleyThe dark patch at top center is a field of dark sand dunes viewed through Hidden Valley, which will be Curiosity’s pathway down off the Zabriskie Plateau as it heads for distant Mount Sharp (two-frame Navcam composite). The light area in the foreground is likely a small impact crater, now filled with wind-blown sand and dust.

NASA description (left frame): This image was taken by Navcam: Left B (NAV_LEFT_B) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 695 (2014-07-21 05:19:14 UTC).

Sol 695 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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HiRISE: Ancient lake sediments

ESP_037122_2165This image shows some interesting fractured materials on the floor of an impact crater in Arabia Terra. There is a channel entering the crater and exiting it (see CTX image). This channel, along with an unusual deposit on the lowest part of the floor, suggests that there was once an ancient lake that deposited sediments here… [More at link]

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Curiosity: Sol 694, July 20, 2014

0694ML0029340010304127E01_DXXXSharp, wind-scoured basalt rocks lie thick on Zabriskie Plateau, which Curiosity is crossing (wide-angle Mastcam image).

NASA description: This image was taken by Mastcam: Left (MAST_LEFT) onboard NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on Sol 694 (2014-07-20 03:26:39 UTC).

Sol 694 raw images (from all cameras), and Curiosity’s latest location map.

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