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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Majestic Mars

Personalized by HiRISE

7 June 2011
Image showing space snapshots that says Great Shots Blog, iconic images from our solar system.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has, for a little over five years, been orbiting Mars and taking data on the evidence of the history of water on Mars. And MRO keeps on sending us more and more data: 136 terabits and counting, which include more than 70,000 images -- that is over three times the amount of data from all other deep-space missions combined; not just the missions to Mars, but every mission that has flown past the orbit of the Earth's Moon.

One of the cameras taking all of those images is MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, also known as HiRISE. HiRISE operates in both the visible and near-infrared wavelengths. Each image HiRISE takes contains basketball-sized pixel elements, which permits us to view surface features on Mars four to eight feet across. This attention to detail allows for never-before-seen stunning and personal views of our neighbor.

And the images are beautiful. Many laud HiRISE images as works of art. In fact, there has been an art exhibit showcasing HiRISE images.

Below find a sample of the vast archive of images taken by MRO's HiRISE instrument. Why not print off a few for your own space. (13 images total)


Kaiser Crater Dune Field
Kaiser Crater Dune Field: Kaiser Crater is a part of the impact basin of the Hellespontus region on Mars. Smaller dunes and ripples are visible across the much larger sand dunes. Look closely and between the dunes you will see areas with seasonal frost.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Inverted Channels and Layers Near Juventae Chasma:
Inverted Channels and Layers Near Juventae Chasma: Pictured here is a part of the Valles Marineris system on Mars. Valles Marineris is a "grand" canyon: It is about as wide as the entire United States and is the largest canyon in the solar system.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Spider Web
Spider Web: Polygonal shapes are mostly found in the northern lowlands of Mars. The ridges are lighter colored because they are covered in bright frost. It is possible that patterned ground on Mars formed as the result of cyclic thermal contraction cracking the permanently frozen ground.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Light-Toned Deposits
Light-Toned Deposits: This image reveals exposed layers in Noctis Labyrinthus which may contain signatures of iron bearing sulfates and phyllosilcate (clay) minerals.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Arkhangelsky Crater Dunes
Arkhangelsky Crater Dunes: These dunes lie within Arkhangelsky crater, which is located in the Martian southern hemisphere. This type of dune is known as "barchan." Barchan dunes have a steep slip face nestled between two downwind pointing "horns." If you look closely you may be able to see the tracks of Martian dust devils on the dunes and crater floor. (Don't worry if you can't see them, below is another HiRISE image that takes a closer look at dust devil tracks.)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Dust Devils on Mars
Dust Devils on Mars: Martian winds or dust devils made the intricate patterns on these sand dunes by exposing the material beneath the surface.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Polygonal Ridge
Polygonal Ridge: In the Gordii Dorsum region of Mars there is a large area covered with polygonal ridges in an almost geometric pattern. The ridges may have originally been dunes that hardened through the action of an unknown process. It is possible that groundwater may have been involved in that process.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Dry Ice Gone Wild
Dry Ice Gone Wild: Seasonal polar caps on Mars are made of carbon dioxide (a.k.a. dry ice). When springtime on Mars occurs, this dry ice evaporates and causes some erosion of the surface. This erosion gives us "araneiform" terrain (various formations on the surface, such as "spiders," "caterpillars" and "starbursts."). (Which do you think is pictured here?)

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Dark Dunes
Dark Dunes: Within a 150-km diameter crater named Proctor, in the southern highlands on Mars, is this dark dune field. The reason these dunes are so dark is because they are composed of basaltic sand that has collected at the bottom of the crater. Between the dark dunes and on the crater floor are many smaller and brighter formations.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum
Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum: Before moving on towards exploring Endeavour crater on Mars, NASA's Mars Exploration rover, Opportunity, spent time at Victoria crater. The Opportunity rover is actually present in this image at the "ten o'clock" position. Can you find him?

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Winter View of Dunes
Winter View of Dunes: Looking a bit like chocolate mountains with forests of chocolate pine trees, these are in fact dunes from the southern hemisphere on Mars during the winter-time. The brighter tones are thought to be carbon dioxide or water frost.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Happy Face
Happy Face: Some areas on Mars have many pits and therefore hold the nickname "Swiss cheese terrain." This particular image of Swiss cheese terrain reveals a surface feature that looks like a happy face. This image was taken to help monitor change over time of the carbon dioxide cap on (or near) the south pole of Mars.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


Mars in 3D
Mars in 3-D: Get out those red and blue 3D glasses (the sunglass style ones from the movie theater will not work for this) and view this section of a Hellas Basin flow on Mars. Or if you don't have a pair you can make your own. Directions here.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona



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Last Updated: 29 Aug 2012