Thanks to NASA’s HiRISE camera, prepare to see Mars in a whole new light.
Twelve years ago, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched.
With its HiRISE camera on board, it’s covered the world many times over, catching the descent and landing of the Curiosity rover.
It helped show that Phobos (above) and Deimos (below) resulted from impacts, not asteroid capture.
It even caught a faraway glimpse of our home.
Meteors sometimes strike Mars, too, scarring its surface.
Down the rims of crater walls, recurring slope lineae are found.
Further analysis showed that these are driven by liquid water, not avalanches.
As the seasons change, water condenses and dissolves martian salts.
These then flow down the crater, as before (above) and after (below) images demonstrate.
HiRISE reveals the incredible geology of Mars, like steep crater walls.
At Mars’ south pole, strange shapes are carved by sublimating dry ice.
Dunes are found wherever winds blow the sands, including along steep slopes.
Impact craters are found everywhere, even in flat, plains-like areas.
HiRISE also images candidate sites for future landers.
Potential new discoveries include possible new impact craters,
martian bedrock where the sands have been blown away,
revealed geological layers down steep crater walls,
new sites with flowing water,
and newly formed features along gullies.
With over 50,000 images, HiRISE’s catalogue is free to view anytime.
Mostly Mute Monday highlights an astronomical wonder in pictures, visuals, and no more than 200 words.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.