NASA Releases Amazing New Pictures Of Mars [Gallery]

Wednesday NASA released four awesome and high-resolution images of Mars.

  • Very Fresh Impact Crater Superposing a Wrinkle Ridge in Hesperia Planum: Wrinkle ridges are long, winding topographic highs and are often characterized by a broad arch with superposed narrow asymmetric ridges. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaVery Fresh Impact Crater Superposing a Wrinkle Ridge in Hesperia Planum: Wrinkle ridges are long, winding topographic highs and are often characterized by a broad arch with superposed narrow asymmetric ridges. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
  • Dune Composition: Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insight into the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaDune Composition: Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insight into the sedimentary history of the surrounding terrain. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
  • Fluvial Fan on a Crater Floor: This observation shows a terrific fan-shaped deposit, beginning where the channel enters a crater. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaFluvial Fan on a Crater Floor: This observation shows a terrific fan-shaped deposit, beginning where the channel enters a crater. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
  • Double Layer Ejecta in an Arabia Region Crater: After an impact, there sometimes multiple phases of material that fall to the ground, creating the appearance of layered-ejecta. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of ArizonaDouble Layer Ejecta in an Arabia Region Crater: After an impact, there sometimes multiple phases of material that fall to the ground, creating the appearance of layered-ejecta. Photo: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

As the Huff Post noted, these four images were taken in November and December 2011 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The images show plenty of dunes and sand ripples of various shapes and sizes inside an impact crater in the Noachis Terra region of southern Mars. Patterns of dune erosion and deposition provide insight into the sedimentary history of the area, says NASA.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched to Mars with six science instruments on its board in 2006. However, the time passed and now the orbiter is on an extended mission, it continues to examine the planet and to provide the facts about the ancient environments and how processes such as wind, meteorite impacts, and seasonal frosts affect the martian surface today. This mission has returned more data about Mars than all other orbital and surface missions combined.

“We’ve learned all sorts of things from HiRISE. We have [contributed to] over 200 scientific publications at this point in time, and we’re learning about all aspects of Mars, from ancient to modern,” said Alfred McEwen, planetary geologist and HiRISE Principle Investigator.

“Some of the most interesting, to me, recently, with our multiple martian years and repeat imagery is seeing things change; and learning about active processes on Mars. We’re seeing sand dunes migrate, we’re seeing gullies form, and we’re seeing lots of changes in icy processes, new impact craters — all of that.”

Since 2006 more than 20,600 images were taken by HiRISE. And now they are available for public viewing. Each observation by this telescopic camera covers several square miles and can reveal features as small as a desk.

The images, taken by HiRISE, are amazingly detailed. In fact, some images of the HiRISE camera have more than 100 times the data of a picture taken with a 10-megapixel camera.

HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson. The instrument was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft, says Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

This week NASA’s rover Opportunity is to celebrate its 8th anniversary on Mars. Actually, a car-sized nuclear-powered rover, is currently on its way to Mars and is expected to land in August.

“Opportunity is 97 months into the 3 month mission,” team members are proud and universally surprised to say.

“Milestones like 8 years on Mars always make me look forward rather than looking back,” Rover Principal Investigator Prof. Steve Squyres of Cornell University told the Universe Today.

“We’ve still got a lot of exploring to do, but we’re doing it with a vehicle that was designed for a 90-sol mission. That means that every sol is a gift at this point.”

“I never thought that we would still be planning sequences for Opportunity today,” Ray Arvidson told Universe Today. Arvidson, of Washington University in St. Louis, is the deputy rover principal investigator.

“I seriously thought both Spirit and Opportunity would be finished by the summer of 2004.”

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