Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mars Sand Dune Changes/Mars Rover Back Roving

NASA Spacecraft Detects Changes in Martian Sand Dunes

Advancing Dune in Nili Patera, Mars Back-and-forth blinking of this two-image animation shows movement of a sand dune on Mars. The images are part of a study published by Nature on May 9, 2012, reporting movement of Martian sand dunes at about the same flux (volume per time) as movement of dunes in Antarctica on Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona/JHU-APL
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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.

MORE: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-130

Opportunity Rover Rolling Again After Fifth Mars Winter

Looking Back at Greeley Haven After Opportunity's First Drive of 2012 NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity drove about 12 feet (3.67 meters) on May 8, 2012, after spending 19 weeks working in one place while solar power was too low for driving during the Martian winter. The winter worksite was on the north slope of an outcrop called Greeley Haven. The rover used its rear hazard-avoidance camera after nearly completing the May 8 drive, capturing this view looking back at the Greeley Haven. The dark shape in the foreground is the shadow of Opportunity's solar array. The view is toward the southeast. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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May 09, 2012
PASADENA, 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."
MORE: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-131

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