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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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Mars Climate Sounder Watches Mars Weather to Prepare for Curiosity Landing

Posted by David Kass on 2010/09/29 12:00 CDT

Two weeks ago Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) started a four-week campaign to support entry, descent, and landing phase for the next Mars rover, Mars Science Laboratory (or "Curiosity").

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Tracing the Big Picture of Mars' Atmosphere

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2010/08/26 12:00 CDT

One of the instruments on a 2016 mission to orbit Mars will provide daily maps of global, pole-to-pole, vertical distributions of the temperature, dust, water vapor and ice clouds in the Martian atmosphere.

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Observing the Martian Atmosphere for Two Mars Years

Posted by David Kass on 2010/07/13 12:00 CDT

June 29, 2010 was the second Martian anniversary of the start of Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) observations at Mars.

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Morphology and mineralogy on Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/05/05 11:16 CDT

A recent entry by Bethany Ehlmann from the blog of the Planetary Geomorphology Working Group of the International Association of Geomorphologists demonstrates how you can combine the power of different types of data to tease out a rich story of the past history of one spot on Mars.

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Pretty (strange) picture from HiRISE: Dust flow crater?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/04/08 11:38 CDT

Yesterday was the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE team's latest flood of archived images, 1,025 of them. I skipped forward to page 42 (what other number would I pick?) and started browsing from there.

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Find pics and track the rovers in Google Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/11 05:28 CST

I think a goodly proportion of you readers have already figured this out for yourselves since it was launched last March, but I didn't download and install it until last weekend, so this is new to me: Google Mars is awesome.

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A pretty picture of Concepcion crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/02/01 10:37 CST

It looks like the rover team thinks Concepcion is pretty enough (in both aesthetic and a scientific senses) to be worthy of the full-color Pancam panorama treatment; color frames started arriving on Earth over the weekend.

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CTX and MARCI -- The OTHER Cameras on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Posted by Tanya Harrison on 2010/01/25 07:45 CST

"What?" you might say, "There are cameras other than HiRISE?" Yes indeed, there are. There are two other cameras aboard MRO: the Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI).

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Your chance to shoot your own high-resolution pictures of Mars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/20 11:48 CST

The HiRISE public suggestion tool, called HiWish, is a Web site that allows you to log in and select a spot on Mars as a suggestion for where the HiRISE instrument should take an image.

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Figuring out the shape of Mars (and other places)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/19 01:31 CST

An amateur named Bernhard Braun ("nirgal" on unmannedspaceflight) has been posting the results from a new piece of software he's developed that generates 3-D models of landscapes from single photos.

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Odyssey's going to start listening for Phoenix

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/11 05:26 CST

Odyssey's going to start listening for Phoenix

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What's up in the solar system in January 2010

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/01/04 01:29 CST

While we don't have Moon bases, we do have plenty of spacecraft. Before I get into my more detailed look at the activities of the 20-odd spacecraft wandering about the solar system, I thought I'd look ahead to 2010 more generally and see what the year has in store for us.

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Beautiful 3D animation of Spirit's environs in Gusev Crater

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/23 08:14 CDT

Doug Ellison has done it again: he's created a spectacular overflight of Gusev crater based upon digital elevation models of the terrain produced by the United States Geological Survey from HiRISE data.

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New HiRISE image of Spirit at Home Plate

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2009/09/03 01:43 CDT

There's a lovely new color HiRISE image of Spirit at Home Plate. It was captured on July 16 (sol 1,968), and Spirit is firmly entrenched at Troy, on the western side of Home Plate.

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