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March 3, 2008

Where's the Kaboom?!

Posted: 04:08 PM ET

Talk about having the camera pointed in the right direction at the right time! Check this out ... an avalanche on Mars, courtesy of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter or MRO.


MRO is one of three spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars. Its onboard camera shot the avalanche on February 19 as part of a routine photo survey of the icecap covering the north pole. The dust cloud caught the sharp eye of Ingrid Daubar Spitale of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who works on targeting the camera.

Scientists say the avalanche is a mixture of carbon dioxide ice and dust that is tumbling down a 2,300-foot slope at the edge of the icecap. Exactly what triggered it is unknown - but could be part of the springtime thaw, a Mars-quake, or a meteorite impact.

And if there was any doubt about the high resolution of the MRO camera, check out this picture of the Earth and Moon from Mars, also just released. Trivia question of the day: What's the distance between the Earth and Moon? Answer here.

–Kate Tobin, Senior Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: NASA • Space

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James   March 3rd, 2008 9:08 pm ET

to tell you the truth, this looks like something in my closet. It doesn't look like an image from space nor does it look like an avalanche. Am I the only one?

Liderc   March 3rd, 2008 10:45 pm ET

Most of the picture. 🙂

Alberto   March 4th, 2008 3:28 pm ET

Looks amazing-
Wished I had that kind of resolution on my camera.

Elizabeth   March 4th, 2008 5:53 pm ET

I agree it does look sort of strange..............

Ray   March 5th, 2008 3:13 am ET

This should be the bulk of our space program for the future!

Mars is going to be our first step into real galatic exploration...

Andre Holl   March 5th, 2008 12:46 pm ET

I don't know what you keep in your closet. Maybe you should buy yourself some books on geology or some with satellite images before you make a comment on a science related page. Try going to the NASA site to see the images before they are zoomed in to get an idea of scale. Maybe then it won't look like some vanilla chocolate ice cream dessert you stuffed into your closet.

maddawg   March 5th, 2008 2:23 pm ET

perhaps your eyes are not all that tuned to depth.

it clearly shows the top of the cliff/mountain with snow and the huge drop to the floor where the dust is puffed up into huge clouds by the falling of the ice/snow.

very cool pic...

mars will not be the first step to galactic expansion of the human race unless they can teraform and create an atmosphere.

we already have buildings on earth where you have to live inside closed quarters and only go out for brief periods of time...they're called prisons!

Lynn Barron   March 6th, 2008 6:05 am ET

Is Mars experiencing "Global Warming" also? Hey Al, are we causing this too?

Brian   March 7th, 2008 11:10 am ET

"Is Mars experiencing “Global Warming” also? Hey Al, are we causing this too?"

Ignorance is bliss...

Rick   March 8th, 2008 1:54 pm ET

Wish someone would succeed at putting a microphone on Mars.
Now that would be very eerie

Karl   March 9th, 2008 7:27 am ET

Wind gust, not avalanche. It would be nice to have more details on this image as well as a wider field of view.

mb   March 12th, 2008 8:22 am ET

That secret film studio at Area 51 must be huge!

Mr. Spock   March 24th, 2008 12:20 am ET

Have they used MRO to take some hi-res shots of Phobos and Deimos yet, or are these not on the agenda for shooting pix? Also does MRO have video capabilty or only static pictures, as impressive as they are?

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