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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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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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