MAVEN spacecraft is on its way to Mars

The MAVEN spacecraft is launched on Nov. 18, 2013 for a 10-month journey to Mars. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The MAVEN spacecraft is launched on November 18, 2013 for a 10-month journey to Mars. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Only a couple of weeks after India launched its first-ever mission to Mars, NASA has also just sent another probe to the Red Planet. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft was successfully launched yesterday, November 18th, at 1:28 pm EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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Unusual oval pit near Galaxias Chaos on Mars

Oval pit or crater with opening in the bottom, as photographed near Galaxias Chaos on Mars by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Oval pit or crater with an opening in the bottom, as photographed near Galaxias Chaos on Mars by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. Click for larger version. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This is interesting, a recent HiRISE photo from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft showing an oval pit or crater with an opening in the bottom (cropped here from one of the larger images) near Galaxias Chaos on Mars. The opening is also oval, and you can see some sand dunes on the bottom. How did it form? More images are available here.

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Postcard from Mars – the view from Curiosity on sol 409

Sol409_pano_postcard_colorized
Panoramic image of the view from Curiosity on sol 409. Click image for link to larger version.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Damia Bouic

As it continues to make its way to Mount Sharp, the Curiosity rover has been sending back to Earth some amazing images of the Martian surface. This latest “postcard” panoramic image by Damia Bouic is a montage of some of these latest photos, from sol 409. Part of the rim of Gale crater can be seen in the distance. Larger versions of the image (black & white and colour) can be seen here (French website). Thanks again to Damia for the use of her images, which beautifully capture the Martian scenery; the next best thing to actually being there! The rest of his Curiosity images can be seen here.

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This Mars rock has teeth

Part of the rock outcrop called Cooperstown. Interesting pointed protrusions can be seen. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Part of the rock outcrop called Cooperstown. Interesting pointed protrusions can be seen in this Mastcam image from sol 440. Click image for larger version. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

As the Curiosity rover currently inspects a rock outcrop called Cooperstown, this rock seems to be baring its teeth. Some interesting pointed protrusions can be seen near the middle and lower right of the image. Below is a closeup of one of these teeth-like protrusions. Fossilized Martian shark teeth? No, probably not, but they are an intriguing feature for sure.

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