Patterns of Mars
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, known as HiRISE, has yielded numerous never-before-seen images of the Red Planet, like this shot of an area west of the Nili Fossae trough that is one of the proposed landing sites for the Mars Science Laboratory. The blue streaky areas are sand desposits created by wind activity.2. Iris
A fresh two-kilometer diameter crater lies on the floor of Pasteur Crater. The colors in many of these photographs have been enhanced by the HiRISE’s software.3. Fractured Hills
Mounds appear to rise from the bottom of impact craters. They could have been produced by ground ice upheaval or erosion of the planet’s mantling layer.4. Crater Wall
Layers of rock are exposed along the wall of a crater located in a region known as Chryse Planitia.
Taken by the Viking 1 lander shortly after it touched down on Mars, this image is the first photograph ever taken from the surface of Mars. It was taken on July 20, 1976.
Color view of Phobos from MRO
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter approached to within 6,800 kilometers of Phobos to capture this enhanced-color view of the Martian moon on March 23, 2008.
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Martian Mineral Veins
The bright linear features cutting the bedrock in the center region of this image look like mineral veins.
Mineral veins are sheetlike bodies of minerals formed by water that flows through fractures. The setting of this image is the central uplift of a large (approximately 50-kilometer diameter) impact crater, where deep, ancient bedrock was uplifted about 5 kilometers and fractured.
Heat from the impact melted ice in the Martian crust, creating a hydrothermal system. This could have been a habitable environment.
A small mineral vein was recently discovered by the Opportunity rover at Endeavour Crater.
Mars’ Northern Hemisphere
Sunset on Mars taken by Opportunity. Source
Mars watchers have a bit of a mystery on their hands. An astronomy buff captured this photo of the red planet, with what looks like a growth emerging from the sphere. So is it a towering cloud? Or just a trick of the light?
Amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke has taken many pictures of the night sky, but when he took this photo of Mars, he knew it was something unusual. He posted the photo on the site Cloudy Nights, explaining that sources had suggested it was a high-altitude water-ice cloud over Mars’ Acidalia region.
The Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University has also been observing the curious cloudy spot using the Thermal Emission Imaging System on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. There are still a number of theories as to the origin of the cloud — it could be debris from a meteor impact, a towering weather system, or perhaps just a trick of the light. You can see Jaeschke’s animation of the anomaly to get a better sense of what they’re looking at.
Whatever it is, the anomaly is shrinking. In the meantime, professional and amateur astronomers are working in tandem to figure out just what’s going on out there on Mars.