What on Mars and Moon ?

This “Easter Egg” is a oval shaped crater around 33.21 S / 173.95 W. on
Mars. I think it is the result of a oblique impact 3.0 billion years
The picture was reconstructed by using three very garbled picture
frames sent back to Earth in 1976 by Viking Orbiter 1 (photos: 489a06,
08, 10) only containing 25 to 33 percent information in form of single
lines separated by dark bars three pixel wide. Adding these three
pictures allows filling most of the gaps.
The picture is certainly far from optimum but the best shot I found of this region.
– Dr. Norbert Gasch –

This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows evidence of wind deposition of fine sediment in the form of drifts in the lee of obstacles in the martian south polar region. The picture is located near 83.4°S, 8.1°W.

This daytime infrared image was collected Aug. 13, 2003 during southern spring. The upper part of the image shows the relatively young volcanic flows from Arsia Mons, while the bottom exhibits the flow front texture of older flows. The older flows are most likely also from Arsia Mons
[ASU THEMIS Science Team]

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NASAView is a Free Planetary Data System archive product display tool that runs on Sun/Solaries, Windows/NT/95, and PowerMac platforms with a common look-and-feel Graphical User Interface (GUI). Weak but quick and opens .qub files with ease.


A Multispectral Image Data Analysis System.
MultiSpec© with its documentation© is distributed without charge.
Win9X,2000,XP,MAC. Nice and opens .qub files if you know how.


UTHSCSA ImageTool (IT) is a free image processing and analysis program for Microsoft Windows 9x, Windows ME or Windows NT.


Free Image Processing and Analysis Tool in Java. ImageJ runs on Linux, Mac OS 9, Mac OS X and Windows. ImageJ is the world’s fastest pure Java image processing program. Extend ImageJ by developing plugins.

ENVI FreeLook

ENVI FreeLook is designed to provide basic viewing, data selection, and data quality assessment capabilities for a wide variety of image data. Nice if you just want to look. Opens .qub files if you know how.

Free ENVI Download

The downloaded products are fully functional and they run in a restricted mode for seven-minute sessions. This enables trial use of the software. No doubt the best but about $5000. Opens .qub files if you know how.

Voyager Image Display

An easy to use shareware Windows 95/98/NT/2000 based image processing program that can read and enhance images from various NASA spacecraft.
How to Open a THEMIS QUB File In ENVI and MultiSpec

Prospecting the Moon and Mars for Supplies

Universe Today - May 23, 2024
The Chief Scientist for NASA’s Mars Program, David Beaty, has spent more than 20 years searching the Earth for metals and oil, and this makes the right man to help future astronauts survive off-Earth.

Checking Out ‘Cheyenne’ and Testing Relay for Phoenix
NASA - May 23, 2024
Opportunity and NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter are conducting a set of demonstrations using the relay between the rover and orbiter to aid planning for communications during NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander mission, slated for launch in August 2007 and landing in May 2008.

Communication | NASA Update | ODY | Opportunity | Phoenix Lander
NASA outer space communications in peril
FCW.com - May 23, 2024
NASA’s extraterrestrial communications system could encounter a major service disruption if managers do not keep a closer eye on the deteriorating network’s needs, according to federal auditors.

Mars Express - Lava tubes on Pavonis Mons
ESA - May 23, 2024
These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express, show Pavonis Mons, the central volcano of the three ‘shield’ volcanoes that comprise Tharsis Montes.

Mars Express | Press Release Images | Volcanos
Surviving the Tough Life
University of Arkansas - May 23, 2024
University of Arkansas researchers have shown that methane-producing microorganisms can survive for up to 25 days without water, which might make such creatures even more likely candidates for the type of life that could be found on Mars.

Life on Earth | Life on Mars | Methane
Arctic drilling could determine if life exists on Mars
canada.com - May 23, 2024
On an Arctic island 3,000 kilometres north of the nearest city, scientists tested a drill this May that could one day open the next chapter in space exploration the quest to discover what lies beneath the surface of the moon and Mars.

Drill | Life on Mars
THEMIS Feature Image - Gale Crater’s History Book
ASU THEMIS - May 22, 2024
Gale Crater forms a large natural repository for a lot of Martian geologic history. This ancient impact scar has a diameter of about 150 kilometers (90 miles) and lies close to where the cratered highlands drop off onto the northern lowlands in Elysium. Based on its size and state of preservation, scientists estimate Gale formed 3.8 to 3.5 billion years ago.

Craters | ODY | Press Release Images
New Software System Offers Better, Faster Spacecraft
Technology News Daily - May 22, 2024
Developed by a team of engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., the new system was created to support the NASA design teams charged with engineering the spacecraft of tomorrow – advanced vehicles to realize the Vision for Space Exploration.

Software | SpaceCraft
NASA’s Deep Space Network
Technology News Daily - May 22, 2024
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) - the agency’s primary system for communicating with spacecraft beyond low Earth orbit - is not well positioned to meet the coming demands of the Vision for Exploration and future deep space science missions.

ExoMars boot camp in Tenerife
ZDnet.com - May 22, 2024
And the Telegraph adds that the robot has been nicknamed Bridget and has taken its first steps on its road to Mars.

Mars mission poses extreme psychological puzzle
Star-Telegram.com - May 22, 2024
It’s the moment every wannabe astronaut dreams of: landing on Mars.

Human Exploration
Apollo-style capsule just not advanced enough, critic says
VenturaCountyStar.com - May 22, 2024
NASA’s decision to use an Apollo-style capsule to return to the moon has received criticism for using old technology to build the next generation of space vehicles.

Human Exploration | SpaceCraft
A lifetime of gazing with eye on Mars
nj.com - May 22, 2024
Mountain climbing on Mars is not as out of this world as some might think.

Human Exploration | Mars Observers
Firm growing crops inside Marengo cave
FortWayne.com - May 21, 2024
In the chilled blackness of a cave-like chamber carved deep into a southern Indiana cliff, Doug Ausenbaugh is raising corn and tomatoes as vibrant as anything that might grow in a sun-drenched field.

MGS Public Target Images - Posted 15 May 2024
Malin Space Science Systems - May 15, 2024
Images Acquired Through MGS MOC Public Target Request Program. Data Acquired in April 2024.

Data Release | MGS
Bright Soil Near ‘McCool’
NASA - April 4, 2024
While driving eastward toward the northwestern flank of “McCool Hill,” the wheels of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit churned up the largest amount of bright soil discovered so far in the mission. This image from Spirit’s panoramic camera (Pancam), taken on the rover’s 788th Martian day, or sol, of exploration (March 22, 2024), shows the strikingly bright colors and large extent of the materials uncovered.

Press Release Images | Spirit
Spirit Struggles to Survive the Martian Winter
NASA - April 4, 2024
As a result, the rover’s handlers on Earth are having a difficult time getting the rover to a suitably north-facing slope to survive the cold, dark, martian winter. The rover must face its solar panels northward to collect enough solar energy as the sun sinks low above the horizon.

Essentially, it’s a race against time. The period of minimum sunshine in the martian winter is more than 100 days away, but Spirit currently gets only enough power for about one hour of driving on flat ground. And, Spirit literally has an up-hill battle.

NASA Update | Spirit
Extreme spots on Earth may yield clues to life on Mars
MyrtleBeachOnline.com - April 4, 2024
She’s climbed almost 20,000 feet into the thin air of an Andes mountain peak, dived into some of the world’s highest lakes and sent a robot across a windswept Chilean desert - all in a quest to learn how life once might have existed, or may still exist, on the Red Planet.

Life on Earth | Life on Mars | Mars on Earth
NASA to Bring the Stars to Alabama
SpaceRef - April 4, 2024
The Experience uses holographic and 3D imagery to show “explorers” what it might be like to visit the surfaces of the moon, Mars and destinations beyond. Visitors can manipulate their environment and explore simulated lunar and Martian landscapes as well as travel to one of Saturn’s moons, free of charge.

MRO to begin descent into Martian atmosphere
Pasadena Star-News - April 4, 2024
Tonight, if all goes well, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will get its first taste of Martian air.


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Full NPR Interview Transcript: NASA Administrator Michael Griffin Not Sure That Global Warming Is A Problem
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Does Mike Griffin Think George Bush Is Wasting His Time?
California Sea Otters – 2007 Survey Count Reaches New High
Massive Transiting Planet with 31-hour Year Found Around Distant Star
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Mimas, Dione, Rhea
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The Global Exploration Strategy Framework: Executive Summary
NASA, 13 Space Agencies Release Exploration Strategy Framework
NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter CRISM Imagery: Phyllosilicate and Olivine around a Fracture in Nili Fossae
Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 30 May 2007
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Zoo: Rare rhino death leaves only 13 worldwide
Exploration “Framework” Released
Mars Today

Site Info
Rick Coffin
©2007 WhatOnMars
MarsDrive Consortium
Tue, 2007-05-08 12:00 — Rick
MarsDrive Consortium has updated their site and new content has been added. Be sure to check it out at marsdrive.com

Human Exploration
VRMars Website
Tue, 2007-05-08 11:54 — Rick
Daniel Onyszczuk has a new Mars website up with free demos for viewing MER images in virtual reality. You can find his site at www.vrmars.com

External Links
Sun, 2007-02-04 09:54 — Rick
I updated the site to the new Drupal 5 and made it so external links now open in a new window. I posted some Mars images to the gallery sometime ago that where not blogged here. You should start to see more Mars images and Mars news in this part of the site soon.

Drupal 5.0 release candidate
Thu, 2006-12-28 11:21 — Rick
I upgraded the site to Drupal 5.0 RC1 with Garland as the theme. I still have to change the colors, put up the logo, get the links to open in a new window, ect…

Sat, 2006-12-23 09:11 — Rick


This visual wavelength THEMIS image was processed from a Reduced Data Record (RDR) Cube File using ISIS 3 and the GIMP.

Sat, 2006-12-23 09:08 — Rick


This visual wavelength THEMIS image was processed from a Reduced Data Record (RDR) Cube File using ISIS 3 and the GIMP.

Sat, 2006-12-23 08:56 — Rick


This visual wavelength THEMIS image was processed from a Reduced Data Record (RDR) Cube File using ISIS 3 and the GIMP.

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Mice to help us endure trip to moon


In Massachusetts, a cadre of tiny mice anxiously wait, hoping they have the right stuff to become the first test astronauts for a very special trip into orbit.

This latest space venture hopes to make future trips to moon safer for humans, since we still have much to learn about the long-term effects of space travel on the human body. Even though we’ve been lifting off the launch pad since 1961, the question remains as to how much the human body can endure in conditions vastly different those on Earth.

For instance, aboard the space shuttle or the International Space Station, astronauts work in nearly zero gravity or micro-gravity.

Future trips to moon, however, would require several months in near zero gravity conditions. In addition, landing on moon would require humans to live and work for months with surface gravity of a mere 0.38-g, less than half that of Earth.

And that’s where the mice may be able to offer some assistance.

Called the moon Gravity Biosatellite Project, it’s a carefully planned mission to transport mice to a habitat in Earth orbit and, at the same time, duplicate the surface gravity of moon. By spinning the capsule at the rate of 34 times per minute, the effect on the wee mice passengers should simulate the 0.38-g’s on the Martian surface.

Scientists are looking for changes in bone density, muscle mass, atrophy, and balance problems similar to those experienced by human astronauts after long stays in the International Space Station.

Teams of scientists and students will create a benchmark with which to chart biological responses from near 0-g conditions in space to 1- g on earth.

Our mice astronauts are competing for space aboard the moon Biogravity Satellite and the opportunity to spend five weeks in space. Mice of the male gender need not apply – scientists have found that females may be more sensitive to lower gravitational effects than males, so only female mice will make the grade. It’s also been found that females will eat less, making the payload lighter at lift-off.

And what’s to happen to our furry little friends after their work is complete?

Luckily for the mice, the last thing on the agenda is to parachute back to earth in a capsule destined to land near Woomera, Australia, where data can be collected and added to the “So You Want to go to Mars” volumes we’ve been writing (literally and figuratively) since the beginning of the 20th century.

The spacecraft is due to leave Earth in 2024, with future Mars expeditions being predicted for sometime in the 2030s.

Ultra-compact dwarf galaxies abound

Mars, King of the Hill

As both rovers approach their third month resident on Mars, the mission planners have returned to Earth time. Both rover teams look to make rapid progress toward distant hills, with a possible second September extension continuing with any remaining mission science.

JPL Mars Program Office Head, Dr. Firouz Naderi, indicated that with this week’s first mission extension, even more may be planned. Currently slated for September 13 as the next mission milestone, such an ambitious science schedule would give the rovers 250 Sols on the planet’s surface. “This is all bonus science,” said Naderi. “After the solar conjunction (alignment between Mars, Earth and the Sun) around September 13th, we would probably propose to NASA for a second extension.” During a solar conjunction, explained Naderi, the Sun blocks line-of-sight views between the Earth tracking and martian surface operations for seven to ten days. “The Sun gets in the way,” said Naderi, explaining that during the lead-up to September 13th, both rovers will be given a deserved weeklong respite, followed by what many hope will be further healthy science operations to follow.

For the rest of 2004, the engineering and science team will look to stretch more life out of their six-wheeled laboratories. The primary constraints on further operations will be thermal, power, and dust accumulation from seasonal change and road weathering. Mission manager, Matt Wallace, explained previously that both rovers were healthy: “We try to keep our finger on the pulse of vehicle health, looking for signals or markers of subtle changes and trends. Except for environmental changes (power, thermal, optical opacity and dust accumulation), there is no wear and tear on subsystems.”

At Gusev crater, the extended Spirit mission will look to traverse towards Columbia Hills. At Meridiani Planum, the extended Opportunity mission will rack up long drives across the flat plains towards Endurance Crater. At full speed, the rovers can clock from 50 to 100 meters per Sol.

In the plains of Meridiani is this trough, with a bedrock outcrop shown right as lighter rock that looks as tabular as that found at Eagle Crater.
Naderi noted that the switch of mission personnel back to Earth time has been a welcome transition. For future missions, he said, the consensus for long-term operations will likely move away from following Mars’ sunrise and sunset times. One problem other than the late and early on-site shifts at JPL has been the inability to sleep at consistent times because the approximately 39 minute longer martian day continues always to push and rotate schedules. Dr. Ray Arvidson, deputy Principal Investigator and Washington University, St. Louis professor of geology, compared the hectic three months on Mars time to jetlag when a transatlantic traveler returns from Europe. “It takes three to four days to get back to Earth time,” said Arvidson.

One other benefit, according to Arvidson, is that since mission science is planned for Spirit and Opportunity on opposite sides of Mars, now that both teams work on the same clock, they will be able to simplify coordination and strategic science targets. There are people on the other rover tream, said Arvidson, “who I haven’t seen for three months except in the parking lot.”

Opportunity bounced off this rock called “Bounce”, the only rock in sight, and landed abruptly in Eagle Crater. The rock abrasion tool has left it drill marks on the rock.
Credit:NASA/JPL/Cornell MSSS
Spirit’s mission manager for surface operations, Jennifer Trosper, noted that on her first day back on Earth time (last Monday), she was pleased not to come into work at 1 A.M. But as she was getting ready for bed that night proved to be exactly when she was called back to JPL–to troubleshoot why the Spirit rover had not responded to a ‘beep’ signal sent from Earth around midnight.

Trosper said that new flight software will be a major priority for the coming days. She explained that while there were risks associated with any commands that change the rovers’ state, the software has been thoroughly pre-tested. The first upload of flight software was not loaded until only one month before launch. The critical descent and landing software was not loaded on the spacecraft until nearly three months after launch, while the probe was well on its way to Mars.

In detail, Trosper noted, their plan will feature first the transfer of software command files for six hours a day over 4 days of direct communication from Earth to the high-gain antenna on both rovers. “When we get all the files on-board, then we build the flight software (locally on the rovers). When that is complete, the rovers go to sleep for 15 minutes, waking up with a new system.” The Spirit rover was the first to encounter file overloads after 18 days of file storage, and at one point could not send any data to Earth except that its system clock had shifted to the year 2053. Later changes in software succeeded in rejoining the rovers with JPL’s command center.

Arvidson highlighted a few near-term science objectives as further investigation on Spirit continues to calibrate the dusty martian skies. By pointing the rover’s panoramic camera towards the sky, while overhead satellites look down, scientist hope to remove the masking influence of dust. Spirit completed these coordinated observations with the thermal emission spectrometer instrument on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter. The observations involved miniature thermal emission spectrometer pre-flight, simultaneous, and post-flight sky and ground measurements. Spirit also collected a panoramic camera opacity observation.

See gallery of Spirit’s images and slideshow

Opportunity continues to surprise scientists as it found another outcrop similar to what was first seen in its landing hole at Eagle Crater. But this time, the outcrop is on the edge of a trough in the middle of the plains. “This outcrop looks texturally like Eagle Crater,” and current plans are to spend several days probing what appears to be bedrock. Bedrock is of interest if it has preserved a layered timeline of rock deposit. Since this deposit also has ripples, scientists hope to discover whether its chemistry “speaks to water,” said Arvidson. “The trough is probably a fracture, we don’t know how young?”