The science performed by HiRISE, the telescopic camera on the Mars Reconnoissance Orbiter, is so important the research team recruited members of the Imperial Guard to stand sentry over their processing computers. Here's a sample of incredible images produced by this well-protected instrument:

The Imperial Guard on duty in the HiRISE office. Image credit: HiRISE/Ari Espinoza

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I'm not the only one with an unrepentant, outright crush on the science done by HiRISE, the telescopic camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This is in part due to the team's tireless outreach work producing HiClips and other science nuggets. The computer assigned to the task is so precious, the science team hired the Imperial Guard to protect it. Considering the scarlet-cloaked, lightsaber-wielding elite guards weren't particularly effective at protecting Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, I hope the researchers have more traditional methods to protect the computer from mishap.

If you are unfamiliar with the incredible images HiRISE sends home, here are selected recent releases from the past few months:

A detailed look at the chaotic terrain along the base of the Valles Marineris canyon system. Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Long cracks grow in the ice during the spring melt at Inca City, creating terrain features that have no Earthly analogue. Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

An irregularly-shaped boulder left a jagged trail as it rolled down a slope. Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This digital terrain model (DTM) captures a deep cave on a rounded shield volcano. Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

These transverse aeolian ridges are formed by wind funnelling into a long valley.Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

A channel and layered deposits suggest that an impact crater in Arabia Terra may once have been a lake. Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

These volcanic cones and lava flows in the Elysium Planitia are surrounded by unusual polygonal ground patterns. Image credit & read more: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona