Wind at the Mars InSight landing site
Published 12/27/2018 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
InSight landed in Elysium Planitia on 26 November, 2018, about a month ago as of this writing. Pictures show that it's a flat place, with small scattered rocks lying around. Unlike in Gale crater, where Curiosity is slowly working its way up the side of a 5 km mountain with a spectacular view of the crater rim, InSight's landing spot is a little boring. InSight's view in Elysium Planitia Curiosity's view in Gale crater Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS In a way, though, that's interesting, if simply for the contrast between the two sites. Despite this big difference in relief, there is one thing the sites... read more ❯

Curiosity, recovering from the Bagnold dunes campaign
Published 5/1/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: You'll probably want to click on this image to see the whole thing, it's pretty big, and it's worth seeing. This 850x550 m (0.53x0.34 mi) scene shows the barchanoid dunes of the Bagnold dune field, imperceptibly crawling southwestward (to the lower left). This is the site where the Curiosity rover first encountered an active dune in its trek through Gale crater. This image was taken after the rover's intensive field campaign of the two dunes in the upper middle of the frame - the rover is in fact in this frame (extra credit if you can... read more ❯

Dunes and rock hurdles in Gale crater (3D)
Published 11/7/2016 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: Wind from the upper left is blowing dark dunes toward the lower right in this 1.92x1.08 km (1.19x0.67 mi) anaglyph (if you don't have your red/blue 3D glasses handy, you can also check out the black and white 2D version). The dunes are crossing through hurdles aligned to make their progress as difficult as possible, but the dunes nevertheless are slowly making their way through. Ironically, the bright "hurdles" are themselves lithified dunes that are perhaps billions of years old. (HiRISE ESP_020555_1755/ESP_047139_1755 NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Curiosity about sand dunes (part 2/2)
Published 12/21/2015 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
Today is December 21, 2015 (northern winter and southern summer solstice on Earth). On Mars it is Ls = 84ยบ, Mars Year 33 (about 12 sols from northern summer and southern winter solstice on Mars). It is sol 1200 of Curiosity's mission on Mars, and the rover is working its way around the southern side of Namib Dune. Part 1 of my previous post shows part of the windward (northeastern) side of High Dune. This time I'll show pictures of the slip face of Namib Dune. The dunes in this part of the Bagnold Dune Field are slowly marching towards the... read more ❯

Curiosity about sand dunes (part 1/2)
Published 12/14/2015 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
Sorry for the pun in the title there, but NASA asked for it by naming their rover like that. And you've seen it done a hundred times, so let's grit our teeth, smile, and carry on. Anyway. So I'm more excited now about a space mission than I have been in a long time. A Mars rover is finally visiting sand dunes, after so many years of peering at them from orbit and seeing them in rover images in the far distance. They took their time getting there, but now it's there. Taking images of the dunes, and presumably other data as... read more ❯

Where is Curiosity on her 1 Mars year anniversary?
Published 7/1/2014 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A piece of Mars: Curiosity has been trolling around on Mars for one martian year, so I think it's time I posted an update on where it is and what it's seeing. Right now (late June 2014), the rover is rolling across meter-sized ripples, heading south toward Mt. Sharp. In the near future there will be even more impressive ripples, and then finally the terrain will start to grow more interesting. I will post more of these in the months to come. (HiRISE ESP_029034_1750, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Little dunes that Curiosity saw last October
Published 1/24/2014 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A piece of Mars: On Oct. 15, 2013, Curiosity drove past a crater that has small dunes or ripples on its floor. In a new HiRISE image, you can see Curiosity's tracks from that day (its 424th sol on Mars). While there, the camera took a nice panorama, so I thought I'd show what this crater and ripple field look like both from the rover and from orbit. Note the dark dunes and Mt. Sharp in the background of Curiosity's image. (HiRISE ESP_034572_1755 NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona, GigaPan) read more ❯

Winds in Gale crater, ancient and young
Published 9/25/2012 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A piece of Gale crater, Mars: Cream-colored ripples wind their way through rough terrain. Looking more closely, the rocky surface seems to be made of highly eroded parallel ridges that are nearly perpendicular to most of the ripples. These ridges might be a remnant of much older (and larger) wind-blown ripples. When Curiosity drives over a surface like this one, we will be able to do more than just speculate about it. (HiRISE ESP_024102_1755) read more ❯

Valley in Mt. Sharp
Published 9/9/2012 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A piece of Gale crater, Mars: Here's a view of a small piece of Mt. Sharp, both from Curiosity (on the right) and from orbit (on the left, HiRISE ESP_028269_1755). A broad valley visible from the rover is revealed to be a natural staircase of layers, partly covered by dark sand. read more ❯