Happy Valentine’s Day from Mars to all the readers of Universe Today !
Well it’s truly a solar system wide Valentines celebration. From the Moon, Mars and even Comet Temple 1 with some pixie Stardust for the romantic rendezvous upcoming in a few short hours [Stardust-NExT Flyby at 11:37 p.m. EST Feb 14].
The Martian camera team from Malin Space Systems, San Diego, wishes to share a special heart-shaped feature from Arabia Terra – images above and below – with all Mars fans on this St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2011. And certainly, I love Mars ! Especially those gorgeous and brainy twin gals Spirit & Opportunity.
The image was taken on May 23, 2010 – at the start of northern summer on Mars – by the Malin-built and operated Context Camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The bright heart shaped feature is about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) long. Arabia Terra lies in the northern hemisphere of Mars
The tip of the heart lies above a small impact crater centered at 21.9 degrees north latitude, 12.7 degrees west longitude.
According to a JPL press release, “The crater is responsible for the formation of the bright, heart-shaped feature. When the impact occurred, darker material on the surface was blown away, and brighter material beneath it was revealed.
Some of this brighter material appears to have flowed further downslope to form the heart shape, as the small impact occurred on the blanket of material ejected from a much larger impact crater.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif manages MRO for NASA.
More Martian hearts images below from another Malin built camera aboard NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter