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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Safe After Unplanned Computer Swap

NASA's long-lived Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter put itself into a precautionary safe standby mode March 9 after an unscheduled swap from one main computer to another. The mission's ground team has begun restoring the spacecraft to full operations.
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Orbiter Images NASA's Martian Landscape Additions

Late Monday night, an image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the Curiosity rover and the components that helped it survive its seven-minute ordeal from space to its present location in Mars' Gale Crater.
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Photo shows Mars rover descent

A spectacular image of the Curiosity rover descending to the surface of the Mars on its parachute has been obtained by an overflying satellite.
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A Fading Impact Crater

On June 25 2012, HiRISE took another look at the young crater to see how it had fared after two Martian years. This image was timed to closely match the illumination and viewing conditions of an earlier HiRISE image. (Audio by Tre Gibbs. All enhanced colour images are approximately 1.2 km across.)

 

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Frosted Gully Landforms

The bright, bluish (enhanced-colour) frost can be clearly seen in the upper alcoves of gullies here. We now know that Martian gullies are active, and that most changes occur in the winter--it is likely that frost like this causes the activity in some way.

 

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Gully Monitoring on Crater Slopes in Terra Sirenum

These crater gullies lie on the northern wall of an unnamed 9-kilometre diameter southern hemisphere crater in Terra Sirenum. The image was acquired during early winter in the southern hemisphere, so the crater wall is in shadow.

 

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Flows in Hellas Planitia

Hellas Planitia is the interior of the Hellas impact basin, is one of the largest visible impact craters in the Solar System. Hellas is located in the Southern highlands and formed very early in the planet's history. The floor of Hellas includes the lowest elevations on Mars and some of the strangest landscapes. 

 

 


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The slightly smaller crater to the south seems to have a sharper rim and steeper sides than its partner to the north, which also appears to contain more small craters inside it and along its rim. (Enhanced colour images are 1 km across. Audio by Tre Gibbs.)

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The eroded ridges are located in a trough, while the well-preserved ridges are at higher elevation. (Enhanced colour images are 1 km across. Audio by Tre Gibbs.)

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Wavy-Looking Layers in the North Polar Layered Deposits

These layers near the North Pole of Mars probably record global climate changes, similar to ice ages on Earth.

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Bright Material along the Floor of a Trough in Noctis Labyrinthus

Many of the troughs (or, rounded depressions) of Noctis Labyrinthus contain bright, sometimes layered, materials. Noctis Labyrinthus is located on the far western end of the large canyon system Valles Marineris. To the west lie the volcanoes of Tharsis. 

 


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In this beautiful image there appears to be a breccia layer, or a layer composed of rock fragments embedded in a finer material. 

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Nestled between mesas, this image shows the valley floor where eroded rocky and/or soil debris appears to have flowed viscously from the msea walls across the valley to merge.

 

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The basin formed during an epoch in Martian history called the Noachian period, and may have harboured a lake based upon the fluvial valleys that flow into it.

 

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One interpretation of the expanded craters visible here is that a group of small impacts, probably secondary craters from a much larger primary crater.



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Three Dust Devils


Credit NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Image of active dust devils on Mars* acquired on the 11th February, 2012, (2:55 PM Local Mars time) by the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter.

* Latitude (cantered): 35.8 degrees Longitude (East): 207.5 degrees



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How Did Valles Marineris Form?

The opening of Valles Marineris did involve crustal spreading and faulting, but may have had a more complex history. Enhanced colour images are roughly 1 km across. 

Folded Layers in Melas Chasma, Central Valles Marineris

How did this folding occur? On Earth, rocks are commonly folded when deeply buried and subject to high heat and pressure, which can make any rock flow. Enhanced colour images are roughly 1 km across. (Audio by Tre Gibbs).

Sedimentary Layers in West Candor Chasma

West Candor Chasma in central Valles Marineris contains some of the thickest of the fine-grained layered deposits on Mars. Enhanced colour images are roughly 1 km across. (Audio by Tre Gibbs).

Terrain Near the MSL Landing Site

This image is of a region slightly to the southwest of where the MSL rover, called Curiosity, will land in August 2012. Enhanced colour images are roughly 1 km across. (Audio by Tre Gibbs).



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Late Springtime Defrosting of Northern Dunes

Every winter, dunes and other surfaces at these northern latitudes are coated with several tens of centimetres of carbon dioxide frost and ice, 

Landslides in an Impact Crater

The many large landslides inside Valles Marineris are well known, but there are also landslides elsewhere on Mars.

Active Dune Gullies in Kaiser Crater

Gullies remain an interesting feature to study on Mars, especially because we are still learning about their formation and what processes still act...

Disappearing Boulder Tracks

This follow-up image to an earlier observation shows that the smaller dark tracks are gone, and the larger ones have faded considerably.



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Of Elephants and Floods of Lava

ESP_026461_2080.jpg
This observation highlights terrain that looks like an elephant. This is a good example of the phenomena "pareidolia," where we see things (such as animals) that aren't really there.
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