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.

Related Articles


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 October 23, 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 October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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