In lieu of the YEAR OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM that started October 2010 and ends in August 2012, following the Red Planet’s length of year (23 months), we decided to give you a treat. NASA’s HiRISE camera, the most powerful camera ever sent into space, has snapped breathtaking portraits of Mars. From ‘trees’ on Mars to an ‘organic cemetery,’ see the ‘Red Planet’s’ craters, dunes, gullies, and even avalanches in stunning detail in this treat we are giving you. We hope that you are just as mesmerized with our twin planet.
Mars is the fourth planet from our Sun in the Solar System. Out of the various planets and moons in our Solar System, Mars perhaps bears the most similarity to Earth, featuring an atmosphere, polar ice caps, and remnants of tectonic activity on the planet’s surface. Mars has fascinated both astronomers and the general public for years, and has been the subject of countless movies and fiction works. Currently, several nations in the world are planning to send missions to Mars for exploration, and NASA’s Spirit Rover recently ended a 6 year exploration of the surface after becoming trapped in sand. These incredible images seem to show pockets of spruces springing up from dunes and hills on the rust-colored planet’s surface, but unfortunately, the pix are really just an optical illusion. The “trees” are actually trails of dark basaltic sand debris and erupting dust clouds caused by landslides as dry ice (composed of frozen carbon dioxide) melts off the dunes during Martian spring. The sand dunes, which form a ring around the planet’s north pole, are covered by a thin layer of reddish dust and patches of dry ice, explains Candy Hansen, a member of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) team at the University of Arizona. “The streaks are sand, dislodged as ice evaporates, which slide down the dune,” Hansen tells The Sun. “At this time of the Martian year the whole scene is covered by CO2 frost.” Each dark sand streak can measure up to 164 feet (50 meters) in length.
Enjoy our TSR brief sightseeing brochure 🙂