A recent study published in Science examines how thin channels inside impact craters on Mars could have formed from Martian gullies, which share similar characteristics with gullies on Earth and are typically formed from cascading meltwater, despite the Martian atmosphere being incapable of supporting liquid water on its surface. However, the researchers hypothesize these gullies could have formed during periods of high obliquity, also known as axial tilt, on Mars, which could have resulted in a brief rise in surface temperatures that could have melted some surface and subsurface ice, leading to meltwater cascading down the sides of impact craters across the planet.Continue reading “Melting Water in Mars’ Past Could Have Created Martian Gullies”
NASA recently used its powerful High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to take a breathtaking image of a dust devil traversing Syria Planum on Mars. One unique aspect of dust devils is their shadows can be used to estimate their height, which have been estimated to reach 20 km (12 miles) into the Martian sky. Studying dust devils on Mars is a regular occurrence for the scientific community and can help scientists better understand surface processes on other planets. But with the atmospheric pressure on Mars being only a fraction of Earth’s, what processes are responsible for producing dust devils?Continue reading “NASA’s HiRISE Camera Recently Imaged a Martian Dust Devil. But Why Study Them?”
Facial pareidolia is the human tendency or illusion of seeing facial structures in an everyday objects – such as seeing the “man in the Moon,” or the face of Jesus on a piece of toast. But here’s a newly found crater on Mars that might be a case of ‘bear-adoilia.’Continue reading “There's a Crater on Mars That Looks Like a Bear”
This interesting image from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows a field of fascinating dunes called barchan dunes. These dunes have formed along a cliff in Chasma Boreale, in the North Pole of Mars.Continue reading “Beautiful Dunes on Mars, Sculpted by Swirling Winds”
Because of the orbiters and landers that have studied Mars over the years, scientists have learned that water ice is very likely locked away just under the surface throughout the planet’s mid-latitudes. These regions – especially in the northern hemisphere — are mostly covered with smooth material and scientists suspect ice is just underneath.
But sometimes, images like this give one from the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, provides a glimpse of the ice that might be buried below the surface. This image shows a cliff jutting out of the normally smooth terrain, and the cliff is covered with bright ice.Continue reading “This Ice Cliff is One of the Few Places With Exposed Water ice in the Mid-Latitudes on Mars. It’s Probably Tens of Millions of Years old”
From orbit, this landscape on Mars looks like a lacy honeycomb or a spider web. But the unusual polygon-shaped features aren’t created by Martian bees or spiders; they are actually formed from a ongoing process of seasonal change from created from water ice and carbon dioxide.Continue reading “This Bizarre Terrain on Mars is Caused by Water Ice and Carbon Dioxide”
For decades, scientists have observed dark landslides called slope streaks on Mars. First seen by the Viking orbiters in the 1970s, every orbiter mission since has observed them, but the mechanism behind the slope streaks has been hotly debated: could they be caused by water activity on the Red Planet, or are they the result of some sort of dry mechanics?
Turns out, the leading candidate is “dry.” But scientists with the Mars Odyssey mission have verified an additional culprit behind the slope streaks: carbon dioxide frost.Continue reading “This is a Dust Avalanche on Mars”
The Mars Perseverance rover is on the move! The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted the rover from above, the first view since shortly after the rover landed in February 2021. Perseverance appears as the white speck in the center of the image above, in the the “South Séítah” area of Mars’ Jezero Crater.
The HiRISE team said the rover is about 700 meters (2,300 feet) from its original landing site.Continue reading “Here’s Perseverance, Seen From Space”
Does the life of an astronomer or planetary scientists seem exciting?
Sitting in an observatory, sipping warm cocoa, with high-tech tools at your disposal as you work diligently, surfing along on the wavefront of human knowledge, surrounded by fine, bright people. Then one day—Eureka!—all your hard work and the work of your colleagues pays off, and you deliver to humanity a critical piece of knowledge. A chunk of knowledge that settles a scientific debate, or that ties a nice bow on a burgeoning theory, bringing it all together. Conferences…tenure…Nobel Prize?
Well, maybe in your first year of university you might imagine something like that. But science is work. And as we all know, not every minute of one’s working life is super-exciting and gratifying.
Sometimes it can be dull and repetitious.Continue reading “Machine Learning Software is Now Doing the Exhausting Task of Counting Craters On Mars”
The HiRISE (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has given us a steady stream of images of the Martian surface. It’s been in orbit around Mars since March 2006, and has greatly outlived its intended mission length.
One of the latest Hi-PODs, or HiRISE Pictures of the Day, is this one, of sedimentary rock on Mars being eroded away.Continue reading “Sediments on Mars, Created By Blowing Wind or Flowing Water”