Mars Shrouded in Dust
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Mars Shrouded in Dust

August 1, 2007

This sequence of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI) daily mosaics shows some of the dust storm activity that occurred near the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity landing site between 21 June 2007 and 18 July 2007.

The Opportunity rover is located near the martian prime meridian and equator. The top and middle rows of images show the first six days of dust storm activity near the rover site as dust advanced from the west to the south and passed south of the rover over the course of a week. By the end of that first week, storm activity strengthened and continued to move east, eventually passing over nearly half of the martian southern hemisphere.

Other storms spawned by this atmospheric disturbance affected the MER Spirit rover on the other side of the planet, while new storms developed, approached, and affected Opportunity. The bottom three images show dust activity over the MER Opportunity site on 3, 14, and 18 July. By 19 July, most of the martian surface was obscured by the dust lofted from these storms.

As with previous large dust-raising events on Mars, once the active storms die down, many weeks to months will pass before the dust settles out and the atmosphere clears. The white circle indicates the location of the Opportunity landing site, the black gaps are caused by slewing the spacecraft east or west to image specific science targets, and north in each picture is toward the top, west is to the left.

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