This global map of Mars was acquired on July 31, 2012, by the Mars Color Imager instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. One global map is generated each day to forecast weather conditions for the entry, descent and landing of NASA's Curiosity rover.
The map is a rectangular projection of Mars (from 90 degrees latitude to minus 90 degrees latitude, and minus 180 degrees longitude to 180 degrees east longitude). The landing site is located on the right side of the map, near 137 degrees east longitude and 4.5 degrees south latitude. The map shows water ice clouds at equatorial latitudes that are typical for late southern winter, when Mars is farther from the sun. Along the southern (bottom) part of the map there are patches of orange clouds, indicating dust lofted into the atmosphere. Small, short-lived dust storms are common at this time of year on Mars and were taken into account when Curiosity's landing system was designed and tested. Larger and more long-lived dust storms are very rare at this time of year. The EDL team is presently monitoring one prominent but small storm southwest of the landing site.