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

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

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.


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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous May 18, 2011, 10:57 PM

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

    • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE May 19, 2011, 2:13 AM

      …, 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 May 19, 2011, 1:03 PM

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

        ‘Typos hppan’


        • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE May 19, 2011, 8:35 PM

          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”.

          • Torbjörn Larsson May 20, 2011, 3:58 PM

            What, no Ivan _The_ Typographical!?

      • Anonymous May 20, 2011, 12:34 AM

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

  • HeadAroundU May 19, 2011, 10:08 AM

    Wrong flip. 2nd one is better.

  • Matthew Ota May 19, 2011, 5:01 PM

    OOps, look at those two jaw dropping etherial Mars Landscapes as they appear with a Google ad…

    • Anonymous May 19, 2011, 8:08 PM

      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 May 19, 2011, 9:12 PM

      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”.