It is a scientific certainty that Mars was once a much different place, with a denser atmosphere, warmer temperatures, and where water once flowed. Evidence of this past is preserved in countless surface features, ranging from river channels and alluvial deposits to lakebeds. However, roughly 4 billion years ago, the planet began to change into what we see today, an extremely cold and desiccated environment. Between all that, it is possible Mars experienced glacial and interglacial periods, which is evidenced by images like the one taken by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) shown above.Continue reading “This Sure Looks Like the Movements of a Glacier Across Ancient Mars”
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”
Pit craters are found on solid bodies throughout our Solar System, including Earth, Venus, the Moon, and Mars. These craters – which are not formed by impacts — can be indications of underground lava tubes, which are created when the top of a stream of molten rock solidifies and the lava inside drains away, leaving a hollow tube of rock. If a portion of the roof of the tube is unsupported, parts of it may fall in, making a hole or a pit along the lava tube’s path.Continue reading “The Tharsis Region of Mars is Peppered With These Strange Pit Craters. Now They’ve Been Found Elsewhere”
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”
Changes are always taking place on Mars, from factors like seasonal variations and wind. But there’s one other aspect that changes the surface of Mar quite often: impacts.
Here’s a new impact crater that was seen by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Exactly when the crater formed is not known, but this image was taken on July 24, 2020 and in a previous image of this site taken in 2018, the crater is not there.Continue reading “This Crater on Mars is Just a Couple of Years Old”
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”
Most impact craters are usually circular and fairly symmetric, but not all. This odd-shaped crater on Mars is obviously an impact crater, but it has a unique oblong shape. What happened?Continue reading “Here’s Something Rare: a Martian Crater That isn’t a Circle. What Happened?”