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What's up in the Solar System in August 2012

Posted by Jason Davis on 2012/08/03 06:03 CDT

Welcome to the monthly roundup of our solar system's envoy of electronic explorers! All eyes are on Curiosity as it approaches Mars this weekend. Who will lend support at the Red Planet?

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HiWishing for 3D Mars images, part III

Posted by Alfred McEwen on 2012/08/01 12:00 CDT

The final article of a three-part series of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera.

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HiWishing for 3D Mars images, part II

Posted by Alfred McEwen on 2012/07/03 02:39 CDT | 1 comments

Part two of a three-part series of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera.

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HiWishing for 3D Mars images, part I

Posted by Alfred McEwen on 2012/06/18 03:10 CDT

Hundreds of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera are publicly available, if you know where to look.

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Third Martian Anniversary for Mars Climate Sounder

Posted by David Kass on 2012/05/16 11:35 CDT | 2 comments

May 16, 2012 is the third martian anniversary of the start of Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) observations from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. MCS started measuring the atmosphere of Mars three Mars years ago, on September 24, 2006. We can now compare the weather and behavior of the atmosphere in three different years, and find the temperature differences to be surprisingly large.

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Swirly lava patterns in beautiful HiRISE images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/26 05:19 CDT | 4 comments

In a channel near a pedestal crater on the plains of Cerberus Palus, Mars, there are wacky swirl patterns.

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Discouraging the search for Mars Polar Lander

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/17 02:26 CST

I'm not encouraging people to search individual images for the Mars Polar Lander anymore, for three reasons.�

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Mars Exploration Family Portrait

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/23 12:26 CST | 1 comments

Jason Davis put together this neat summary of the checkered history of Mars exploration.

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Mars Climate Sounder confirms a Martian weather prediction

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/25 01:30 CDT

The Mars Climate Sounder team has recently confirmed a prediction of a weather phenomenon on Mars that we haven't been able to observe before.

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Nighttime Water Ice Clouds Predicted by Models are Confirmed by MCS Observations

Posted by Jim Shirley on 2011/10/25 12:00 CDT

The Mars Climate Sounder instrument provides routine nightside observations of atmospheric temperature and opacity that document the presence of rapidly evolving water ice cloud layers in the Martian tropics during the northern summer season.

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The latest HiRISE view of Opportunity, on Endeavour's rim

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/24 10:19 CDT

In a now-routine act of obtaining detailed photographs of robots from Earth sitting on the surface of another planet, the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a view of Opportunity sitting on the rim of Endeavour crater.

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Gale's not the only Martian crater with an "enigmatic mound"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/17 07:33 CDT

Much has been made of the "enigmatic mound" within Gale crater, which will be the target of the Curiosity Mars rover's investigations. The 5,000-meter-thick section rocks in Gale's central mound will be fascinating to study, but the fact that Gale has a central mound that's taller than its rim is not at all unusual on Mars.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT

April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.

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What's up in the solar system in March 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/28 02:43 CST

I don't think there's any question what the big event of this month will be: MESSENGER is finally, finally entering orbit at Mercury on March 18 at 00:45 UTC (March 17 at 16:45 for me).

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Happy Valentine's Day from Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/14 01:35 CST

I dug around and found something unique: this cool heart-shaped feature on Mars -- my Valentine to you all!

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Scientific clarification: "inverted topography" is more general than "esker-like features"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/14 10:50 CST

In the past couple of months I've received several emails from scientists offering clarifications, corrections, or alternative points of view to previous posts, which is awesome and something that I enthusiastically encourage. Here's one of them.

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Two views of Santa Maria, from orbit and from the ground

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/04 11:27 CST

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has just snapped another photo of Opportunity sitting on the ground on Mars. These pictures never get old.

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Opportunity: "So close we can taste it" to Santa Maria

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/14 01:18 CST

Opportunity is on a kilometers-long eastward road trip across Meridiani Planum toward the rim of a large ancient crater named Endeavour; it'll be many months yet before she gets there.

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Door 11 in the 2010 advent calendar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/11 02:35 CST

Time to open the eleventh door in the advent calendar. Until the New Year, I'll be opening a door onto a different landscape from somewhere in the solar system. Where in the solar system are these sinuous ridges?

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