Last updated April 17, 2018 at 11:09 am
Take a look at the sand dunes of Mars in unprecedented detail, thanks to HiRISE.
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this incredible image of gullies in the sand dunes of Mars.
What at first glance may look like leather, are actually gullies in the Matara Crater. In the past ten years these gullies have been very active, with many flows occurring when seasonal frost is present. Unlike frost on Earth which is made of water, Martian frosts are most likely frozen carbon dioxide.
In this image frost is seen in and around two gullies. Both have been active before, here is how they looked in 2010.
So far, there haven’t been any flows spotted this year, however researchers are keeping a close watch.
The image here is at a scale of 50 centimeters per pixel. North is up.
HiRISE gives a new picture of Mars
The image was captured by HiRISE, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, which has photographed swaths of Mars’ surface in unprecedented detail.
Installed on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently orbiting Mars at an altitude between 200 and 400 km, the HiRISE camera has provided the highest-resolution images ever captured from Martian orbit. It acquires surface images containing individual, basketball-size (30 to 60 centimeters) pixel elements, which allows surface features around 1 metre across to be determined.
The camera operates in visible wavelengths, but with a telescopic lens that produces images at resolutions never before seen in planetary exploration missions. HiRISE also detects near-infrared wavelengths to obtain information on the mineral groups present.
Together, these allow scientists unprecedented views of layered materials, gullies, channels, and other features of scientific interest. It also allows the location and characterisation of potential future landing sites.