A new image from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows an ethereal landscape near Mars north pole. Credit: NASA/HiRISE team
A new image from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows an ethereal landscape near Mars north pole. Credit: NASA/HiRISE team

Mars, Missions

Swirls, Gullies and Bedrock Create Two Jaw-Dropping Ethereal Mars Landscapes

18 May , 2011 by

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Wow! These two latest images from the HiRISE Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are simply amazing. I couldn’t decide which to post on top as the lead image, so did a coin flip. This observation shows dune gullies laced with beautiful swirls of tracks left by dust devils. Just like on Earth, dust devils move across the Martian surface and expose the underlying darker material, creating a striking view. The HiRISE team has been tracking changes in this location (-70.3 degrees latitude and 178.2 degrees Longitude East), and they also compare it with dune gully activity going on in other regions. The science team says the activity here is rather anomalous for their high altitude location.

And the other image….

Dunes and bedrock near Noachis Terra on Mars. Credit: NASA/HiRISE team.

This HiRISE image shows a very unique butter brickle-like landscape — it is actually dunes and bedrock on the floor of a crater near Noachis Terra. What strikes me most is the clarity of the detail in this image — it is absolutely stunning.

Scientifically, this crater is unique because it has been very well characterized as being olivine-rich. Olivine is a magnesium-iron silicate that is very common on Earth. There are other regions of Mars that are also rich in olivine, and since olivine turns into other minerals in the presence of water, scientists are interested in looking for those minerals as well.

The science team says that while the large scale morphology of these craters is well characterized, this is not the case with fine scale layering and fracturing, such as what is seen here. Studying landscapes like this could help the understanding of large scale crustal processes on Mars, including the genesis of magmas and the creation of regolith.

All I know is that it is just plain pretty.

See more images at the HiRISE website.

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Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.



10 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nancy, This would have a been a great photo for ‘Where In The Universe.”

    • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE says:

      …, This would have a been a great photo for…

      William, tsk tsk. You’ve got a superfluous indefinite article “a” between the terms “have” and “been”.

      Gotcha! Now we are even.

      • WaxyMary says:

        Ethereal rather than Etherial — I am surprised the Ivan did not catch this one.

        ‘Typos hppan’

        Mary

        • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE says:

          My attention to detail is in direct proportion to the level of caffeine that I have in my system!

          Oh, and that “the” should be the term “that”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks IVAN, we are even. I can’t believe I did that, particularly with an edit facility available!

  2. HeadAroundU says:

    Wrong flip. 2nd one is better.

  3. Matthew Ota says:

    OOps, look at those two jaw dropping etherial Mars Landscapes as they appear with a Google ad…
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2103983079522&set=a.1241084867606.2036796.1243833938&type=1&theater

    • Anonymous says:

      All I can say is sometimes the ads you see on that come up on UT in your own browser are in response to your past browsing history.

    • Daniel Brewer says:

      Yeah, google shows you ads based on keywords in your searches and email. I get ads for jet rental; probably because of searching for flight simulator. A while back I got ads for telescopes, while researching a beginner one. You may not have necessarily searched for porn or large bras; maybe you searched for the song or movie “big girls”.

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