Pictured: a Martian dust devil twisting across the Martian Amazonis Planitia region. The 100-foot-wide column of swirling air was captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter last month as it passed over the northern hemisphere of Mars.
All week we’ve heard rumblings from NASA that big Mars science news would drop today, and sure enough that news is big: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has quite possibly found liquid water flowing on the surface of Mars. Not water that flowed millennia ago, or water that once flowed but is now permanently ice. This water appears to be liquid to this day, at least part of the time. That is, during the warmest months on Mars this salty brine thaws and flows like liquid across the surface of the planet.
It’s been a big week for those long-serving spacecraft we don’t always hear so much about. Earlier this week news broke that Voyager 1 had crossed a benchmark boundary on the far fringes of the solar system, and now Odyssey, launched back in 2001, has surpassed the Mars Global Surveyor as the longest-running mission to Mars.
Youth and vigor have their advantages, but there is something to be said for longevity. NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has been circling the red planet since 2001 and has just released the best map ever made of the Martian surface.
NASA has released the first crop of pictures chosen by you, the people, of interesting spots on Mars. Taken with the high-resolution camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the pictures show boulder fields, mesas, sand dunes, pockmarked craters and even ice sheets that provide a glimpse of Martian climate changes. Astronomy buffs like James Secosky, a retired teacher in Manchester, N.Y., told NASA where to point and shoot.
Springtime on Mars means the thaw of carbon dioxide ice in the northern hemisphere. And when the dry ice goes, the party's over for any trapped debris that then goes tumbling down Martian cliffs in spectacular images such as this.
A camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has taken nearly 13,000 observations of the red planet, but might only now begin to live up to its nickname of "the people's camera." The U.S. space agency has announced a new chance for you, dear reader, to suggest where that spacecraft should point its camera next.
Netizens can see both existing images and suggested targets on a new public suggestion website. They may then use a simple rectangle to designate their location of choice for MRO's HiRISE camera.
Spirit is still stuck in the sand, and Opportunity's future beyond Mars' next solstice is unclear, but the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to beam back groundbreaking images from high above the Red Planet. Using images taken from NASA's MRO, researchers at Imperial and University Colleges London have determined that water-filled lakes existed on the Martian surface 800 million years later than previously thought.
In a first for NASA, the MRO's high-resolution camera was trained on little brother Phoenix's successful landing this weekend
By John Mahoney
Posted 05.27.2008 at 5:50 pm 5 Comments
Phoenix Lands:The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this stunning image of the Phoenix Lander making its descent. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
In the first ever instance of a spacecraft photographing the landing of another craft on Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this incredible image of NASA's Phoenix Lander making its descent on Sunday. Phoenix landed successfully and has already begun transmitting images from its landing zone in Mars's northern polar region, where it will be conducting meteorological and geological surveys over the course of its three-month mission.
An accidental shot reveals the active Martian landscape
By Gregory Mone
Posted 03.04.2008 at 12:53 pm 2 Comments
Yesterday, NASA released more than two thousand images from the high-resolution camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft looping around the Red Planet. One of the highlight photos, taken February 19, shows the cloudy aftermath of an avalanche of ice and dust rushing down a steep slope. The image surprised scientists, and proved that Mars is not just some planet-sized museum, but a very active world.
Pointed at the surface of Mars, the half-meter telescope on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will reveal structures as small as three feet wide-cracks in the canyons, rock outcroppings that had been just a blur. Scientists hope the craft, which launched in August and will take up orbit around the planet in March, will be able to spot the twin Mars rovers still tirelessly rolling across the surface and trace the fate of the European Space Agency's failed Beagle 2 lander. Ground-penetrating radar will further
the search for water.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.