Category Archives: MRO

Martian Pac-Man-like Crater

As much as I hate to admit this, I know what Pac-Man is.  You might say “well who doesn’t know Pac-Man?  I remember quite a lot of life BEFORE Pac-Man or those type games.  Ha, kind of makes me feel a little old.

Beyond that, this is a great image from the HiRISE imager aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).  Be sure to click the image and look at some of the details.  I like the dunes inside the crater.

Here’s the caption from NASA:

This image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows barchan sand dunes, common on Mars and often forming vast dune fields within very large (tens to hundreds of kilometers) impact basins. The regions upwind of barchans are usually devoid of sandy bedforms, so if you were walking in a downwind direction, then the barchans would seem to appear out of nowhere.

As you walk downwind, you would notice the barchans link up (“joining arms”) and eventually slope into featureless sand sheets. We call this progression of dunes a “Herschel-type dune field” named after the first place this sequence was described: Herschel Crater.

But here is something interesting: a barchan dune filling the upwind portion of a small impact crater in a Pac-Man-like shape. This “dune-in-a-crater” is nearly at the highest extent of the field. It is also probably a rare configuration, and over the next few tens of thousands of years the sand will be blown out of the crater.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

 

Avalanche!

This image from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shows streaks forming on slopes when dust cascades downhill. The dark streak is an area of less dust compared to the brighter and reddish surroundings. What triggers these avalanches is not known, but might be related to sudden warming of the surface.

These streaks are often diverted by the terrain they flow down. This one has split into many smaller streaks where it encountered minor obstacles.

These streaks fade away over decades as more dust slowly settles out of the Martian sky.

The map is projected here at a scale of 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) per pixel. [The original image scale is 28.1 centimeters (11.1 inches) per pixel (with 1 x 1 binning); objects on the order of 84 centimeters (33.1 inches) across are resolved.] North is up.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

What Is a Hoodoo?

This is a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of hoodoos on Mars.  The image is part of a  larger image you can see here (links off-site)

I better let Candy Hansen (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) explain:  On Mars, we often see inverted river channels preserved perched above the surrounding terrain because the sediment inside the river channel was stronger than its surroundings. This is common in the American Southwest in places where lava flowed down river channels and the surrounding sandstone subsequently eroded away leaving ridges in places that started as valleys.

There’s another example of high-standing columns protected by a strong cap rock, called “hoodoos.” Looking closer at our image, we see what looks like a crater and its rays of ejecta, preserved and slightly higher than the surrounding terrain, possibly due to a similar process.

Image:  NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

 

Landslide!

On Mars that is.

This is from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO.  Fantastic observation.  Imagine this landslide unfolding; the gravity on Mars is just a bit less than 38 percent of what it is here on Earth so it probably seem to be happening in slow motion.   Or would it?  Lower gravity means that the perception of time would change as compared to Earth too so then what?  WHERE you are doing the observation from would make a difference I think.  Putting a pencil to that problem would be a good rainy day project

Here’s the NASA caption:

This image NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) finally completes a stereo pair with another observation acquired in 2007. It shows a fresh (well-preserved) landslide scarp and rocky deposit off the edge of a streamlined mesa in Simud Valles, a giant outflow channel carved by ancient floods.

The stereo images can be used to measure the topography, which in turn constrains models for the strength of the mesa’s bedrock. Do look at the stereo anaglyph.

This is a stereo pair with PSP_005701_1920.

The map is projected here at a scale of 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) per pixel. [The original image scale is 31.5 centimeters (12.4 inches) per pixel (with 1 x 1 binning); objects on the order of 94 centimeters (37 inches) across are resolved.] North is up.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

 

Martian Bedrock

Roadside bedrock outcrops are all too familiar for many who have taken a long road trip through mountainous areas on Earth. Martian craters provide what tectonic mountain building and man’s TNT cannot: crater-exposed bedrock outcrops.

Although crater and valley walls offer us roadside-like outcrops from just below the Martian surface, their geometry is not always conducive to orbital views. On the other hand, a crater central peak — a collection of mountainous rocks that have been brought up from depth, but also rotated and jumbled during the cratering process — produce some of the most spectacular views of bedrock from orbit.

This color composite cutout shows an example of such bedrock that may originate from as deep as 2 miles beneath the surface. The bedrock at this scale is does not appear to be layered or made up of grains, but has a massive appearance riddled with cross-cutting fractures, some of which have been filled by dark materials and rock fragments (impact melt and breccias) generated by the impact event. A close inspection of the image shows that these light-toned bedrock blocks are partially to fully covered by sand dunes and coated with impact melt bearing breccia flows.

This is a stereo pair with ESP_012367_1695.

Thanks to: The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Looking At Home

A beautiful sight and one that could be seen by humans in the not too distant future.  This image was taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and took a bit of processing, however I suspect at some point in a voyage to Mars the travelers would see this very sight.

I wonder if looking back at this from a craft heading to Mars, if second thoughts come to mind.

earthmoon

About the image from NASA

This composite image of Earth and its moon, as seen from Mars, combines the best Earth image with the best moon image from four sets of images acquired on Nov. 20, 2016, by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Each was separately processed prior to combining them so that the moon is bright enough to see. The moon is much darker than Earth and would barely be visible at the same brightness scale as Earth. The combined view retains the correct sizes and positions of the two bodies relative to each other.

HiRISE takes images in three wavelength bands: infrared, red, and blue-green. These are displayed here as red, green, and blue, respectively. This is similar to Landsat images in which vegetation appears red. The reddish feature in the middle of the Earth image is Australia. Southeast Asia appears as the reddish area (due to vegetation) near the top; Antarctica is the bright blob at bottom-left. Other bright areas are clouds.

These images were acquired for calibration of HiRISE data, since the spectral reflectance of the Moon’s near side is very well known. When the component images were taken, Mars was about 127 million miles (205 million kilometers) from Earth. A previous HiRISE image of Earth and the moon is online at PIA10244.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Edit: the could – well debacle was fixed, tried to get “fancy” – fail lol.

A View From Above

And what at first looks something like an image of a herd of animals or something of the like. . .

marsfans

. . . turns out to be nothing even close. These are the remains of gas pockets below the seasonal ice on Mars.

The image comes from the HiRISE imager on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The original caption:

Gas under pressure will choose an easy escape route. In this image, the terrain is covered with a seasonal layer of dry ice.

The weak spots, for gas sublimating from the bottom of the seasonal ice layer to escape, appear to be around craters, where the surface was broken and pulverized by an impact. Fans of surface material deposited on top of the seasonal ice layer show where the escape vents are.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

MRO Sees Schiaparelli

landingsitesc

Here’s an update from an earlier post.  Nice work from the HiRise camera on the Mar Reconnaissance Orbiter. You can see a larger version of the image above by clicking it. There is a larger version yet you can get from NASA which I recommend.

From NASA:

This Oct. 25, 2016, image shows the area where the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli test lander reached the surface of Mars, with magnified insets of three sites where components of the spacecraft hit the ground. It is the first view of the site from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter taken after the Oct. 19, 2016, landing event.

The Schiaparelli test lander was one component of ESA’s ExoMars 2016 project, which placed the Trace Gas Orbiter into orbit around Mars on the same arrival date.

This HiRISE observation adds information to what was learned from observation of the same area on Oct. 20 by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Context Camera (CTX). Of these two cameras, CTX covers more area and HiRISE shows more detail. A portion of the HiRISE field of view also provides color information. The impact scene was not within that portion for the Oct. 25 observation, but an observation with different pointing to add color and stereo information is planned.

This Oct. 25 observation shows three locations where hardware reached the ground, all within about 0.9 mile (1.5 kilometer) of each other, as expected. The annotated version includes insets with six-fold enlargement of each of those three areas. Brightness is adjusted separately for each inset to best show the details of that part of the scene. North is about 7 degrees counterclockwise from straight up. The scale bars are in meters.

At lower left is the parachute, adjacent to the back shell, which was its attachment point on the spacecraft. The parachute is much brighter than the Martian surface in this region. The smaller circular feature just south of the bright parachute is about the same size and shape as the back shell, (diameter of 7.9 feet or 2.4 meters).

At upper right are several bright features surrounded by dark radial impact patterns, located about where the heat shield was expected to impact. The bright spots may be part of the heat shield, such as insulation material, or gleaming reflections of the afternoon sunlight.

According to the ExoMars project, which received data from the spacecraft during its descent through the atmosphere, the heat shield separated as planned, the parachute deployed as planned but was released (with back shell) prematurely, and the lander hit the ground at a velocity of more than 180 miles per hour (more than 300 kilometers per hour).

At mid-upper left are markings left by the lander’s impact. The dark, approximately circular feature is about 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) in diameter, about the size of a shallow crater expected from impact into dry soil of an object with the lander’s mass — about 660 pounds (300 kilograms) — and calculated velocity. The resulting crater is estimated to be about a foot and a half (half a meter) deep. This first HiRISE observation does not show topography indicating the presence of a crater. Stereo information from combining this observation with a future one may provide a way to check. Surrounding the dark spot are dark radial patterns expected from an impact event. The dark curving line to the northeast of the dark spot is unusual for a typical impact event and not yet explained. Surrounding the dark spot are several relatively bright pixels or clusters of pixels. They could be image noise or real features, perhaps fragments of the lander. A later image is expected to confirm whether these spots are image noise or actual surface features.

Figure 1 is an unannotated version of the full scene, which covers an area about 0.9 mile (1.5 kilometers) wide. It is a portion of HiRISE observation ESP_048041_1780.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

Fields of Boulders

marsboulders

The HiRISE imager on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) took this image of a boulder field on Mars.   The boulders are alongside of a canyon probably resulting from a land slide – see the caption below.

I spent quite a lot of time looking at the image looking for tracks and was thinking about what would trigger a landslide on Mars.  Meteor hit?  Seismic activity?  The Seismic activity question was to be answered following the NASA’s launch of the InSight spacecraft which was built with a multi-national effort.

Insight was to launch in March and was going to look at conditions in the interior of Mars.  A technical problem with a seismometer holding vacuum is going to delay the launch for the entirety of 2016.

About the InSight delay.

About the image with links to a great 3-D version:

 

The striking feature in this image is a boulder-covered landslide along a canyon wall. Landslides occur when steep slopes fail, sending a mass of soil and rock to flow downhill, leaving behind a scarp at the top of the slope. The mass of material comes to rest when it reaches shallower slopes, forming a lobe of material that ends in a well-defined edge called a toe. (Take a look at the anaglyph to compare the steep cliff and landslide scarp to the relatively flat valley floor. )

This landslide is relatively fresh, as many individual boulders still stand out above the main deposit. Additionally, while several small impact craters are visible in the landslide lobe, they are smaller in size and fewer in number than those on the surrounding valley floor. The scarp itself also looks fresh compared to the rest of the cliff: it, too, has boulders, and more varied topography than the adjacent dusty terrain.

Just to the north of the landslide scarp is a similarly-shaped scar on the cliffside. However, there is no landslide material on the valley floor below it. The older landslide deposit has either been removed or buried, a further indicator of the relative youth of the bouldery landslide.

This is a stereo pair with ESP_036886_1760.

The University of Arizona, Tucson, operates HiRISE, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Image Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

 

Martian Dust Devils

marsdustdevil

The image above shows three dust devils in the Ganges Chasma (Valles Marineris) on Mars.  It was taken by the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter.    There were actually eight dust devils captured in an image you can see here from NASA.

Here is most of the caption released with the image:

Both of these factors help warm the surface and generate convection in the air above. The surface is streaked with the faint tracks of earlier dust devils. A pair of dust devils appears together at top right, spaced only 250 meters apart. These two have quite different morphologies. The bigger one (on the right) is about 100 meters in diameter and is shaped like a doughnut with a hole in the middle. Its smaller companion is more compact and plume-like, but it too has a small hole in the center, where the air pressure is lowest. It may be that the smaller dust devil is younger than the larger one. A row of four dust devils are in the middle of the color strip, separated by about 900 meters from one another.

This image might answer some interesting questions about the behavior of dust devils. Dust devils are theoretically expected to migrate uphill on a sloping surface, or migrate downwind when there is a breeze. Where they are found close together in pairs, they are expected to rotate in opposite directions. HiRISE color observations can be used to determine the direction of rotation and-for fast moving dust devils-the direction of their travel. This is because the different color observations (infrared, red, and blue) are taken at slightly different times. The differences between the earliest color observation and the last tell us about the changes that took place during that time interval.

All this requires careful analysis, but if these dust devils are moving fast enough, and spaced closely enough, these here might display some interesting “social dynamics,” possibly marching together and rotating in alternating directions.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona