When NASA’s Opportunity rover landed on Mars in 2004, it settled at the bottom of a crater in an interplanetary hole-in-one shot that would make even a golf champion jealous. When the rover trundled out of its unexpected hole, it left behind its landing platform. Now, 13 years later, we’ve caught our best glimpse yet…
During a recent calibration exercise, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a remarkable view of Earth and its moon from a distance of 127 million miles (205 million kilometers). It’s so clear, you can even make out our planet’s continents.
It’s always a good time to get up close and personal with Mars.
Today marks the anniversary when NASA’s Voyager 1 captured both the Earth and its Moon in a single frame. For the first time, we perfectly captured the two celestial bodies we call home.
The HiRISE camera mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is exploring the history of water on Mars, snapped this photo of a circular depression on the Red Planet's surface.
Just expand this image a little bit and you'll see amazing detail — that's frost forming on ripples of sand, its distinctive wrinkly appearance created by wind whipping along this slope on the inside of a Martian crater.
Mars isn't just an endless stretch of dull red dirt — different parts of the planet's surface are geomorphologically distinct, with some parts boasting dunes, craters, or flood channels, while others feature evidence of avalanches, dust devil trails, and stratified terrain.
With a gentle rainbow of topographical changes, and the scalloped detail of active dunes, this digital terrain model is pure indulgence for the eyes. It's also part of an ongoing study on using aeolian processes to investigate sedimentation and atmospheric science on Mars.
These dunes are a fleet of Star Fleet communicator badges (combadge), flying in formation across the Martian surface. The geomorphology of why this happens has nothing to do with Star Trek or transporter beams, and everything to do with aerodynamics.
The walls on the sides of Zumba Crater on Mars are so steep, it looks like an eyeball staring back at you from the digital terrain model. The ejecta forms a hill of red and brown around the perfectly circular blue crater floor.
This impact crater on Mars is decked out in rainbow colours reflecting the topography of the area. The dark blues and purple of the crater floor rapidly digs through the high-elevation red, yellow, and green of the surrounding plains.
On Mars exists a patchwork of rectangular ridges, a mysterious feature unique to the red planet. While better and better photographs narrow down the plausible theories, we still don't know exactly what created these puzzling structures.
This well-preserved crater on Mars features evidence of mass wasting — reoccurring slope linea formation. Material is being eroded from the high-elevation crater lip, forming shifting gullies into the basin below.
Light and shadow play on the ridges of sand dunes that lie cloistered in an impact crater in Mars' Noachis Terra region.
The Opportunity, Spirit, and Curiosity rovers may get the headlines for their craters clambering exploits but it's NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, quietly observing the planet turn from 178 miles up, that's most critical to our exploration of the Red Planet.
Four months ago, NASA landed a one-ton, nuclear-powered rover on the Red Planet, scattering the Martian terrain with heaps of debris in the process. Curiosity, upon arrival, shed so much of its Entry Descent & Landing hardware that high resolution images of the planet's surface are still turning up traces of the…
One of the best ways to learn about a planet's history is to examine its geology, so one of the things scientists look for when sending rovers to Mars is areas on the planet's surface that allow access to multiple layers of diverse and interesting rock types.
Remember a few weeks ago when astronomers spotted that "ghostly snake" of a twister creeping its way across the face of Mars? Well, the windstorm featured up top makes that other storm look like an adorable little dust-up.