Frosty Mornings

We had a overnight freeze warning earlier this week here in Westminster. That can happen in the early Spring, but even our coldest mornings in the winter don’t compare to winter mornings on Mars. The white stuff in the photo above is dry ice—frozen carbon dioxide.

Image Credit: NASA

Elysium Mons

This image shows a cross section of Elysium Mons, including the entire summit caldera of the Martian volcano. It’s taller than Mt. Everest, standing about 12.6 km (41,000 ft) above its base and about 14.1 km (46,000 ft) above the Martian datum. It’s only the third tallest Martian mountain in terms of relief and the fourth highest in elevation.

Image Credit: NASA

The Martian Moons

moons_apparent-sizesThe Curiosity rover on Mars used its cameras to take the series of pictures stitched together to make this video. These are the first images from missions on the surface which have caught one moon eclipsing the other. The images were taken on 1 August, 2013, but some of the full-resolution frames were not downlinked until more than a week later, in the data-transmission queue behind higher-priority images being used for planning the rover’s drives.

The picture on the left shows how big the moons of Mars appear to be, as seen from the surface of Mars, compared to the size that Earth’s moon seen from the surface of Earth.

Image and Video Credits: NASA

A Helicopter on Mars

Nighttime temperatures at Jezero Crater on Mars can drop to -90 C which can damage unprotected electrical components and ruin batteries. However, the Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night after being deployed from the Perseverance rover on 3 April. If all goes well, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Image Credit: NASA

A Landing Site on Mars

The day after the Perseverance rover landed on Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this picture of the landing site. The image shows the location of the Mars 2020 mission descent stage, heat shield, and parachute and back shell that delivered Perseverance to the surface of Mars as well as the rover itself on the floor of Jezero Crater. Each the inset box spans is about 200 m across. Perseverance is located at the center of the pattern created by rocket exhaust from the the descent stage while it hovered and lowered the rover to the surface. After lowering the rover, the descent stage itself flew off, crashing a safe distance from the rover. After their separation in the landing sequence, the heat shield, parachute, and back shell fell to their own impact sites.

Image Credit: NASA

Looking at Mars at Night in UV

This obviously false color animation of Mars shows how its atmosphere glows and pulsates in ultraviolet light every night. It was assembled from months of data taken by the MAVEN spacecraft orbiting Mars. The nightglows occur three times during each rotation of the planet about 70 km above the surface. All three occur at sunset (which is on the left limb of the planet in this view). The pulsations are believed to be caused by downward winds creating nitric oxide in the atmosphere which glows in the UV spectrum. The fact that the three glows occur in data averaged over several months indicates that they are a nightly occurrence.

Video Credit: NASA