See a gargantuan dust storm covering the north pole of Mars

dust storm mars express image 7365 1e storms 1
A dust storm underway at the edge of the north polar ice cap of Mars. The image was taken by Mars Express’ Visual Monitoring Camera on May 29, 2019. ESA / GCP / UPV / EHU Bilbao

An epic dust storm around Mars’ north pole has been imaged by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter.

Localized dust storms are common on Mars, but occasionally a storm will expand into a planet-wide event like the one which caused the demise of the Opportunity rover. It’s spring at the moment in Mars’ northern hemisphere, so the ice cap is retreating and weather events like water-ice clouds and dust-lifting events are common along its border. And a huge storm is blowing in now, as captured by the Mars Express.

The images show a spiral-shaped dust storm, visible in brown against the white of the ice cap. The Mars Express also observed what happens when the dust storms reach huge volcanoes like Elysium Mons and Olympus Mons. Near to volcanoes you find orographic clouds — ice clouds which are created when air is pushed up against the sloped side of the volcano. But as the dust approaches, it warms the air and makes the ice clouds evaporate, destroying them.

The images were captured using two cameras aboard Mars Express, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC). The HRSC is a scientific instrument which images the whole of Mars in full color and in 3D, with a resolution of around 10 meters. If needed, it can focus in an image areas with a resolution of two meters. The VMC, on the other hand, is an engineering camera which has been repurposed for public engagement. It produces images which are automatically processed and uploaded once they arrive on Earth, so it’s now known as the “Mars webcam.”

“Since it was reactivated, this small camera has done a fantastic job in regular imaging of the planet, and through its outreach activities and social media channels is helping bring Mars closer to the public,” Simon Wood, Mars Express spacecraft operations engineer at the European Space Operations Centre, said in a statement.

If you want to check in on the action on the red planet regularly, you can head over to the VMC’s Flickr account to see all the latest images.

Emerging Tech

Astronomers have spotted a moon forming around a proto-Jupiter

Astronomers have spotted a young planet with a disk of gas and dust around it which is similar to the one from which the moons of Jupiter were born. The planet PDS 70 b is in the process of forming and is located 370 light-years away.
Emerging Tech

NASA thinks 3D-printing spacecraft parts in orbit will help Moon to Mars mission

NASA funded the demonstration by a small spacecraft named Archinaut One to manufacture and assemble parts while in space. NASA believes that the technology will change future space exploration, including its Moon to Mars initiative.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope captures the beautiful remnants of a dying star

The VLT has captured a beautiful cosmic object, the planetary nebula named Abell 24. Located in constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog), it is a swirl of dust and gas which is illuminated by the core of a dead star.
Emerging Tech

Orbiter spots Curiosity from space, shows our rover friend on surface of Mars

If you've been wondering how Curiosity is faring on Mars, now you can see for yourself, thanks to a new image of the rover captured from orbit by NASA's HiRISE camera, an instrument aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Emerging Tech

Hubble spots unexpected disc around supermassive black hole

Hubble has discovered something odd: A disc of material around a supermassive black hole which was thought to be starving. The black hole in question lies at the center of the galaxy NGC 3147, 130 million light-years away from Earth.
Emerging Tech

Meet NASA’s climbing robots, able to move through the slipperiest environments

When it comes to exploring far off planets, robots need to be able to tackle all sorts of environmental challenges. NASA has been working on a series of climbing robots to take on different tasks in inhospitable environments.
Emerging Tech

Stallone in Terminator 2? How one deepfake prankster is changing cinema history

Ever wanted to see The Shining with Jim Carrey instead of Jack Nicholson? How about Stallone in Terminator 2: Judgement Day instead of everyone's favorite governator? Thanks to deepfakes, it's now possible -- just ask YouTuber Ctrl Shift…
Emerging Tech

Bouncing robot for low-gravity space missions has a spring in its step

The European Space Agency has created SpaceBok, a robot inspired by the springbok designed for low-gravity dynamic walking. On the moon, SpaceBok could potentially jump as high as two meters into the air.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods looks to make another splash with fishless fish

Impossible Foods is currently developing fishless fish, in response to the growing demand for plant-based food. The product will include heme, a protein from genetically modified yeast that was also used in the Impossible Burger.
Cars

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Drone lens, laser synth, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Professional poker players no match for A.I. in six-player Texas Hold ’em

Poker AI Pluribus destroyed professional players in Texas Hold 'em. The bot won an average of $5 per hand with winnings of $1,000 per hour, with strategies that were very different to how humans played the game.
Emerging Tech

Russia launches X-ray observatory capable of locating thousands of black holes

Russia has finally launched its powerful X-ray observatory, Spektr-RG, after a delay caused by faulty batteries on board the spacecraft. The launch took place at 5:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, July 13, taking off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Emerging Tech

Flyboard Air soars over Paris during France’s national day celebrations

Franky Zapata, the inventor of the jet-powered Flyboard Air, showed off his machine during France's Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday. The impressive display was even given a nod of approval by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Deals

Save with Prime Day deals on DNA kits from Ancestry, 23andme, and Living DNA

Prime Day is a great time to order a DNA kit. Over the years, kits from various providers have been deeply discounted -- and this year's no exception. Kits from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA are on sale for as much as half off…