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Global image of Mars from UAE’s Al-Amal orbiter

Mars as seen by Al-Amal in January 2022
Click for original image.

Cool image time! The United Arab Emirates (UAE) today released several new images taken by its Al-Amal Mars orbiter, showing the changing atmospheric conditions on Mars between September ’21 and January ’22.

The photo to the right, cropped and annotated by me, is the January image, showing the dust storm conditions that presently exist in the equatorial regions of Mars. The lighter puffy cloud-like features in the center of the image are a 1,500 mile wide dust storm centered on the equator. The white dot indicates the approximate spot where Perseverance sits in Jezero Crater, within that storm.

The previous Al-Amal image from September (available at the link) shows the whole Martian hemisphere with generally clear skies.

Below is a recent photo taken by Perseverance illustrating these dusty conditions.

The view of the rim of Jezero Crater, taken by Perseverance in February 2022
Click for full image.

The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken on February 10, 2022 by one of the rover’s high resolution cameras, and appears to be looking to the west at the rim of Jezero in the distance. As you can see, the view is extremely hazy.

While dusty conditions such as this caused the end of the Opportunity rover, and are about to end InSight’s mission, both those probes depended on solar panels for power. Thus, dust and lower lighting conditions cut the power available to both landers, to the point that both could no longer operate.

Perseverance does not depend on solar power, however, but a form of nuclear power, so this dust storm had no significant impact on its operations. Ingenuity however does use solar panels, and it is this dust storm that caused the month-long delay in the helicopter’s 19th flight as engineers waited for the Martian air to clear.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

7 comments

  • Gary

    Bob,

    Is the plan for all Mars probes going forward to be powered by nuclear sources. Would seem insane to me to send something into that environment which was reliant on solar power.

  • Too bad there’s no mechanism provided for Ingenuity to return and get a recharge boost from Perseverence’s nuclear power, if needed. Or at least provide a blower on Perseverence that could blow off Ingenuity’s solar panels as Perseverence drives over it.

  • Andi

    Just wondering- should a dust devil come along and blow the dust off of Opportunity, could it actually wake up?

  • Andi: No. Opportunity is dead. Once its power dropped so low that it could no longer maintain the instruments at a certain temperature, they froze.

  • Lemuel Ricafort Vargas

    Robert:
    Might it be possible that Opportunity might have been buried completely (or partially), when that global dust storm hit it?

  • Lemuel Ricafort Vargas: No. The amount of material in a Martian dust storm is quite small. Remember, the atmosphere is 1/1000th as thick as Earth’s. The dust can block sunlight during a storm, and it can reduce the efficiency of a solar panel significantly, but neither requires very much dust.

  • As the pic at top illustrates, the quantity of sunlight being “blocked” isn’t large, together with the crater wall dozens of miles away being still visible, so the quantity of dust suspended in the air really isn’t all that much.

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