Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona "Serpent Dust Devil of Mars"
It is easy to forget a lot of remote and direct sensing, GIS and GPS work, and measurements are not even done on Earth. Of course, I am referring to NASA's Curiosity Rover that touched down this week and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which has been in orbit for several years. These are following in the footsteps of other great rovers and spacecraft that have successfully made the voyage. However, I feel like the MRO is a bit neglected...
The MRO carries a host of sensors and instruments to map and image Mars including, A high-resolution camera in visible wavelengths (HiRISE), a wide area view camera, a weather imager in five visible and two ultraviolet bands (MARCI), an infrared spectrometer looking for signs of water, mineral deposits, etc., a radiometer, and a radar (SHARAD).
The scientific value of these instruments is beyond measure. NASA is probably one of the best agencies at making data and images available publically...Here are some neat open source resources related to this endeavour!
- Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/index.cfm?ShowLandingPage=No
- Storm Chasing on Mars Video: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/media/clips/mrotwister20120319-1280.mov
- Mars Weather Report: http://www.msss.com/msss_images/latest_weather.html
- Recent HiRISE images: http://hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/katalogos.php
- Older Images: http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/HiRISE/hirise_images/
- Curiousity Rover: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/
- Great article by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19186237