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While Phoenix is now only 18 days away from the martian arctic, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI) and Context Camera (CTX) have been monitoring the weather over the region where the lander will arrive on May 25 around the landing site. A few days ago, on 20 April 2008, the CTX camera retrieved something that would be awesome for Phoenix to spot from the ground...two huge active dust devils within the mission landing ellipse.
You can see them in the image above marked with yellow arrows.
On Mars we’re now in late Northern Spring (Spring will end and Summer will begin one month after the Phoenix landing, on 25 June 2008) so, by the time the images were acquired it is possible to see also white patches in small craters (marked in red arrows in the image above), what are these? The leftovers of seasonal frost from the previous winter, that was, a few weeks before this images were taken, still covering the landing site.
More information and images at MSSS.
Don’t forget! Tomorrow live Q’n’A with Michel Denis, Head of the MARS EXPRESS Mission Operations Unit, and Mars Express-Phoenix Service Manager, Peter Schmitz, here at spacEurope!