Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Martian dust devil whirls into Opportunity's view

Date:
August 2, 2010
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
In its six-and-a-half years on Mars, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity had never seen a dust devil before this month, despite some systematic searches in past years and the fact that its twin rover, Spirit, has seen dozens of dust devils at its location halfway around the planet.

This is the first dust devil that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has observed in the rover's six-and-a-half years on Mars.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University/Texas A&M

In its six-and-a-half years on Mars, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity had never seen a dust devil before this month, despite some systematic searches in past years and the fact that its twin rover, Spirit, has seen dozens of dust devils at its location halfway around the planet.

A tall column of swirling dust appears in a routine image that Opportunity took with its panoramic camera on July 15. The rover took the image in the drive direction, east-southeastward, right after a drive of about 70 meters (230 feet). The image was taken for use in planning the next drive.

"This is the first dust devil seen by Opportunity," said Mark Lemmon of Texas A&M University, College Station, a member of the rover science team.

Spirit's area, inside Gusev Crater, is rougher in ground texture, and dustier, than the area where Opportunity is working in the Meridiani Planum region. Those factors at Gusev allow vortices of wind to form more readily and raise more dust, compared to conditions at Meridiani, Lemmon explained. Orbiters have photographed tracks left by dust devils near Opportunity, but the tracks are scarcer there than near Spirit. Swirling winds at Meridiani may be more common than visible signs of them, if the winds occur where there is no loose dust to disturb.

Just one day before Opportunity captured the dust devil image, wind cleaned some of the dust off the rover's solar array, increasing electricity output from the array by more than 10 percent.

"That might have just been a coincidence, but there could be a connection," Lemmon said. The team is resuming systematic checks for afternoon dust devils with Opportunity's navigation camera, for the first time in about three years.

Opportunity and Spirit arrived on Mars in January 2004 for missions designed to last for three months. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. For more information about the project and images from the rovers, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Martian dust devil whirls into Opportunity's view." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100729205651.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2010, August 2). Martian dust devil whirls into Opportunity's view. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100729205651.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Martian dust devil whirls into Opportunity's view." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100729205651.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Nuclear-Level Asteroids Might Be More Common Than We Realize

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) The B612 Foundation says asteroids strike Earth much more often than previously thought, and are hoping to build an early warning system. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Astronauts Step out on Spacewalk for ISS Repairs

Two US Astronauts Step out on Spacewalk for ISS Repairs

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) Two US astronauts stepped out on a brief spacewalk Wednesday to install a backup computer at the International Space Station after one failed earlier this month. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

NASA Chief Outlines Plan for Human Mission to Mars

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) NASA administrator Charles Bolden, speaking at the 'Human to Mars Summit' in Washington, says that learning more about the Red Planet can help answer the 'fundamental question' of 'life beyond Earth'. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins