NASA Spacecraft Detects Changes in Martian Sand Dunes
May 09, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed that movement in sand dune fields on the Red Planet occurs on a surprisingly large scale, about the same as in dune fields on Earth.
This is unexpected because Mars has a much thinner atmosphere than Earth, is only about one percent as dense, and its high-speed winds are less frequent and weaker than Earth's.
For years, researchers debated whether sand dunes observed on Mars were mostly fossil features related to past climate, rather than currently active. In the past two years, researchers using images from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera have detected and reported sand movement.
Opportunity Rover Rolling Again After Fifth Mars Winter
May 09, 2012PASADENA, Calif. -- With its daily supply of solar energy increasing, NASA's durable Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has driven off the sunward-tilted outcrop, called Greeley Haven, where it worked during its fifth Martian winter.
Opportunity's first drive since Dec. 26, 2011, took the rover about 12 feet (3.67 meters) northwest and downhill on Tuesday, May 8. The rover operations team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., received confirmation of the completed drive late Tuesday, relayed from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter.
"We're off the Greeley Haven outcrop onto the sand just below it," said rover driver Ashley Stroupe of JPL. "It feels good to be on the move again."
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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