Mars is not the dead world we once thought it was, and these images portray that fact. Stuart Atkinson (not a relative, but a good pal) is part of the UnmannedSpaceflight.com crew, the folks who have created fantastic visual treats from raw images sent back from our space exploring robots. Stu also has his own website, Cumbrian Sky . Today, Stu posted some pictures on his website, along with his story of how he came to create an utterly fantastic image from a rather ordinary-looking picture from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaisaince Orbiter. After seeing Stu’s handiwork today, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind sharing his story on Universe Today of how he came to make an amazing discovery on Mars. (Click on the image above for a larger version.)
Stu said he found the image above on the “dangerously addictive” Mars Global Data website. The image, of the Aram Chaos region, didn’t look very interesting at first. But then he zoomed in to get a better look at the “slumpy” feature in the middle of the image, and then zoomed in some more. “It looked like a section of the valley wall had come loose and slid down to the lower ground below,” Stu said as he raised a Spock-like eyebrow…
There, he discovered the track of a huge boulder that had “fallen from the valley wall and tumbled down, bouncing and rolling and boinging along for a long, long way.”
Adding color to the image really highlighted the tracks left by the bouncing boulder, and a few other tracks showed up as well, creating an absolutley awesome image and discovery!
“You know what I love about these images?,” Stu wrote on his blog. “They show movement, they show that things are moving on Mars right now. It’s not the dead, lifeless, corpse of a world I grew up with; it’s a world – we now know – where dust devils whirl and twirl across the plains… where clouds drift through the pale pink sky… and where huge stones fall from high cliff face, fall to the ground below, then bounce and roll and crash over it… unseen by anyone.”
Great detective work, Stu! I propose that this region should be named after Stuart Atkinson (at least the boulders, if nothing else!)
Also, check out Stu’s pictoral history of the International Space Station, starting from when it was a wee infant back in 1998 to the great images we’ve seen of the ISS this past week.