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31 March 2015

Martian Chronicles is Back!

Good news everyone: this blog is coming out of retirement! For a while now, I and two other USGS scientists on the Curiosity team, Ken Herkenhoff and Lauren Edgar, have been posting brief updates on what the Curiosity rover is up to, over at the USGS Astrogeology website. Now, through the wonders of the internet (and some behind the scenes work by the USGS and AGU webmasters) those updates will …


25 January 2010

Model Mars Landscapes!

Check out these spectacular new photos of Mars! It certainly looks like the rovers have stumbled upon some more interesting terrain! The only catch is, these aren’t pictures of Mars at all, they are photographs of models made of, among other things, paprika, chili powder, and charcoal. They are the work of Matthew Albanese, and you need to go check out some of his other photographs. There are steel-wool tornadoes, …


6 November 2009

Big Picture HiRISE Gallery!

Speaking of Mars art, the Big Picture blog (which all of you should be following by now) has a feature on images of Mars taken by HiRISE. Head on over and take a look. Mars is a really pretty and often bizarre-looking place. [PS – Have you voted today?]


Mars Art: Mind-blowing Swiss Cheese

First of all, a reminder to go vote on my article about MSL, which is a finalist in the science writing competition. Ok, done? Good. I wanted you to do that before I showed you this image because it may very well break your brain. This is a HiRISE image of the so-called “swiss cheese” terrain at the south pole of mars. The terrain is formed by the sublimation …


15 October 2009

Mars Art: HiRISE Dust Devils and Dusty Dunes

It’s been a while since I posted any “Mars art” but I just came across this Bad Astronomy post and had to share. The short explanation of the photo is that dust devils spiraling across these sand dunes have removed the red dust but left behind dark sand in artistic swirls. For a more detailed description, check out Bad Astronomy, and to take a closer look at the image itself, …


25 June 2009

Surreal-looking HiRISE Picture of the Day

I don’t have time to write a full post since I am busy trying to get a presentable outline of my PhD thesis prepared to show to my committee next week. So in the mean time, enjoy this beautiful and bizarre HiRISE image of defrosting terrain on Mars. Click the image or this link to go to the HiRISE page and see the full version.


30 January 2009

Rover Cake!

Today the rover team got an email from Michelle Nichols at the Adler Planetarium showing off the awesome cake that they had for their celebration of the rovers’ 5th anniversary on Mars. It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t believe they ate such a masterpiece! Here’s the description of the cake from the email: The body of the rover and the high gain antenna were all made of toffee buttercrunch cake with …


11 December 2008

Mars in 3D

Apparently the folks on the HiRISE team decided that spectacular images weren’t enough. They have now released hundreds of 3D HiRISE images on their website, including the one above of layered rocks and sand dunes in Arabia Terra. (you may recognize this scene from my Mars Art post a few weeks ago) Grab your 3D glasses and enjoy!


8 December 2008

Mars Art: Rhythmic Layers

This week’s Mars Art image also happens to be the subject of an interesting new finding. A new paper in Science details the discovery of a set of layered deposits in Arabia Terra that appear to match the Martian Climate cycle. Mars’ tilt wobbles around and causes the climate to change with it. It follows the general pattern of ten smaller wobbles in between larger wobbles. The layers shown in …


24 November 2008

Mars Art: Dunes in Abalos Undae

This week’s Mars Art is a HiRISE view of Dunes in Abalos Undae. Pictures of sand dunes taken by HiRISE never get old for me. There is something about the undulating, regular shapes of dunes that is fascinating and beautiful and peaceful. There is a great quote about dunes in the book “Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes” by R.A. Bagnold that goes on quite poetically about them, but …


15 November 2008

Mars Art: Something Old, Something New

I love this image. It is a view from the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) showing layered rocks and dunes in the bottom of an unnamed crater in Arabia Terra, Mars. The rocks are extremely ancient sediments, laid down billions of years ago when the planet was young. One of the most impressive things to me is how nice and regular the layers are. The black dunes and the granule ripples …


10 November 2008

Mars Art Galleries!

Apparently I am not the only person who has had the idea of posting “artistic” images of Mars! In the past week I’ve come across two sites with collections of Mars Art images. So in lieu of posting my own image this week, I’ll point you to these sites who had the idea before me! First is a site by Jim Plaxco called simply the Mars Art Gallery. It has …


2 November 2008

Mars Art: Dust Devil Tracks

In this scene, taken by the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) on Mars Global Surveyor, dust devils have swirled and gyrated back and forth, lifting the bright dust off of the surface and leaving complicated dark-toned streaks. There are many more examples of this, including some where the dust devils have been caught in the act! I’m posting this as Mars Art because it looks for all the world to me …


28 October 2008

Mars Art: Linear Dunes near the North Pole

I am starting a new thing. Every week, I will browse through data from current and past Mars missions and find an “artistic” image to post here. I’ll talk briefly about what the image says scientifically, but mostly this is about eye-candy and the crossover between science and art, which I have talked about before. Without further ado, here’s your first piece of “Mars Art”: This image is a HiRISE …