Where In The Universe Challenge #19

Here’s another “Where In The Universe” challenge, and in keeping with the Mission:Impossible theme from the previous post, your mission, should you choose to accept, is to identify where in the universe this image was taken. Give yourself extra points if you can name the spacecraft responsible for the image. Does everyone have their watches synchronized and secret decoder image detectors ready? It’s fairly certain this website will not self destruct in five seconds, so take your time looking at the image. As always, no peeking below before you make your guess.

This is an image of a dune field on Mars in Wirtz Crater, and yes, the white material is actually frost on the dunes. It was taken by the HiRISE Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I came across this image while searching for more evidence of frost on Mars, other than what the Phoenix and Viking Landers had imaged. Just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, I checked in with Nathan Bridges from JPL and the HiRISE Team about this image. He explains, “The white material is frost, composed of water and/or carbon dioxide. When this image was taken, it was winter in this part of Mars and it gets cold enough for water to condense out of the atmosphere and even for the atmosphere itself to freeze (the atmosphere is made of CO2) The color is approximately what you would see on Mars, but is enhanced to bring out detail.”

This image was taken on January 7, 2007 at about 3:50 in the afternoon, Mars local time, as HiRISE was 254 km (158.7 miles) above Mars’ surface. Wirtz Crater is located at -48 degrees latitude and 334.6 degrees longitude east.

For more information about this image, or to get higher resolution versions of the entire image swath, check out HiRISE’s website.

16 Replies to “Where In The Universe Challenge #19”

  1. I’ll eat my hat if this isn’t a dune field in Mars, shot by MRO’s HiRISE camera…

    Let’s see…

    YES! I won’t eat my hat!

    (I wouldn’t anyway: I don’t have one :D)

  2. Hi after a very long time, i guessed that it was martian frost but didnt get HiRISE… I am getting there..one of these days..i will crack the full thing…
    Thanks again, Nancy

  3. Had a feeling that there would be a good chance it would be Mars, but it was pure chance that I got MRO right, having picked the spacecraft essentially at random. ^_^;;

  4. 3 things did come to mind, but I did not trust my brain and could not put it all together correctly. I saw dunes, and thought Mars from one of the orbiters, but that white didn’t match the polar cap. Guess I smelled the coffee but just didn’t wake up. 🙂

  5. But look carefully. They are not what we would describe as dunes. The HiRISE image shows them to be a number of raised mounts. I would say, from the size of the crater, they might each be as much as two or three thousand feet high.

    Can anyone remember seeing frozen water droplets? But these are not droplets, they are very much larger than that and they must be separate areas inside the crater where liquid is rising to the surface. So I ask; are these small ice mountains? So why are they rippled like sand dunes? Perhaps they catch the water vapour as such a light covering that the frost acts as though it really is snow and then “ripples” at the surface. We have to remember that whatever the process, it has been active at the surface for millions of years and these are dunes that have been undisturbed, (other than by the wind), since they first started to form.

    The more we see, the greater the excitement and challenge to work out if what we see is the reality. Wow! Mind blowing!

  6. Woo Hoo! I nailed it! Now 14 for 19 or 74% correct. Isn’t that a “D” on the college scale? I see others are getting it too, but I don’t think it was particularly easy. I’d call it about average difficulty. Keep ’em coming!

  7. Mars, in the northern dune field. The white stuff on top of the dunes is carbon dioxide frost. The spacecraft is the MRO or Mar Resonances Orbiter. The instrument used is the HIRISE camera.

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