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.