Massive Martian Dust Storm |
A Martian dust storm that NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking since last week has also produced atmospheric changes detectable by rovers on Mars.
Using the orbiter’s Mars Color Imager, Bruce Cantor of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, began observing the storm on Nov. 10, and subsequently reported it to the team operating NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The storm came no closer than about 837 miles (1,347 kilometers) from Opportunity, resulting in only a slight drop in atmospheric clarity over that rover, which does not have a weather station.
Halfway around the planet from Opportunity, the NASA Mars rover Curiosity’s weather station has detected atmospheric changes related to the storm. Sensors on the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), which was provided for Curiosity by Spain, have measured decreased air pressure and a slight rise in overnight low temperature.
“This is now a regional dust storm. It has covered a fairly extensive region with its dust haze, and it is in a part of the planet where some regional storms in the past have grown into global dust hazes,” said Rich Zurek, chief Mars scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “For the first time since the Viking missions of the 1970s, we are studying a regional dust storm both from orbit and with a weather station on the surface.”
Curiosity’s equatorial location and the sensors on REMS, together with the daily global coverage provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, provide new advantages compared with what Viking offered with its combination of orbiters and landers. The latest weekly Mars weather report from the orbiter’s Mars Color Imager is at
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is on the verge of passing a rigorous month-long health checkup with flying colors, scientists announced today (Sept. 12).
Since Curiosity landed inside Mars’ Gale Crater on Aug. 5, researchers have been systematically checking out the rover’s systems and its 10 science instruments to make sure they’re all in good working condition. Those inspections have gone very well and should be finished by the end of Curiosity’s next Martian day, or sol, mission team members said today.
“The success so far of these activities has been outstanding,” said Curiosity mission manager Jennifer Trosper, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Throughout every phase of the checkouts, Curiosity has performed almost flawlessly.”
will.i.am, NASA team up for first song from Mars
“will.i.am listens to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Sciences and Exploration Directorate Chief Scientist Jim Garvin talk next to a mock up of the Mars rover Curiosity in Pasadena, Calif. Today at 4PM EDT, NASA will debut a new song by will.i.am.”
Will.i.am … you are hereby forgiven for the auditory misdeeds of the Black Eyed Peas, thanks to your tireless work to support science and expand education.
And because of the robots. You are a robot/science/art hero. Thank you.
Tune in later today (4 PM Eastern) on NASA TV to stream the event, where Mr. Am’s new song will be broadcast from the surface of Mars. It’s amazing that I just got to type those words.
This argument occurs, year after year, at dinner parties and in Congress alike. Every time, someone asks the question: why are we paying for NASA?
Written by Wylie Overstreet
Passage to remember:NASA’s sole purpose is this: to search for truth. “To reveal the unknown for the benefit of all humanity”—that’s its motto and that’s what Brandon was trying to articulate. When we push back the frontier of space, that is when we are at our best. The old among us find renewed hope, the young, new aspirations. It inspires us in a way no other science does. Infectious disease research simply does not make jaws drop. NASA germinates new generations of scientists and innovators, individuals who can solve our terrestrial problems. It galvanizes the world, as Sagan noted, “to address problems in other fields that also have never been solved. It gives currency to critical thinking, the sort so urgently needed if we’re going to solve hitherto intractable social issues.” If we can do this, we ask, what else are we capable of?
First Color Picture from Curiosity
This view of the landscape to the north of NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity was acquired by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the afternoon of the first day after landing. (The team calls this day Sol 1, which is the first Martian day of operations; Sol 1 began on Aug. 6, 2012.)
In the distance, the image shows the north wall and rim of Gale Crater. The image is murky because the MAHLI’s removable dust cover is apparently coated with dust blown onto the camera during the rover’s terminal descent. Images taken without the dust cover in place are expected during checkout of the robotic arm in coming weeks.
Curiosity rover finds ‘bright object’ in first scoop of Martian soil
The shiny object could likely be a small bit of the rover itself. NASA scientists are not using the scooping arm until they know for sure.
This is what happens to naughty Mars rocks. *pew pew pew*
The rover’s Chemistry and Camera instrument, or ChemCam, blasted a flat, fist-sized rock with a high-powered laser 30 times in 10 seconds, creating plasma sparks that were analyzed by three light-splitting spectrometers to determine their chemical contents.
MSL Curiosity is starting to look around and will calibrate her camera using the pixelated sticker mounted on her frame (in photo #3)
She may have seen her own shadow, but as Mars is near the end of summer at the moment, so it won’t be having six more weeks of winter. #joke
I love getting up in the morning and checking the Mars Science Laboratory’s website for new raw images.
I got really excited when I saw that bottom picture in the set, I can’t wait to see pictures taken with the MastCam!