NASA this week began showing off more than 1,500 new images of the surface of Mars, taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
In browsing through the cropped detail images, we couldn't help but be struck by the sense that we were wandering through an art gallery of striking, and often abstract, impressions of our next-door neighbor in the solar system.
This image, according to NASA's terse caption, is of potential high-temperature mineral deposits in the Terra Tyrrhena Knob.
We may know Mars as the Red Planet, but many of the HiRise images are studies in blue. Titled "Translucent Ice," this image is a reminder that the Mars Phoenix Lander in June 2008 uncovered a white substance that scientists believed must be ice. In November, using a surface-penetrating radar, the orbiter spotted what could be glaciers of water ice on Mars.
NASA says this image shows possible hydrate-rich terrain. The HiRise camera can show details as small as 1 meter across even though the orbiter it's riding on is somewhere between 125 and 250 miles above the surface. Like human eyes, HiRise operates in visible light, but it also works at near-infrared wavelengths to investigate mineral groups.
More photos from the HiRise camera can be viewed at CNET
By Jonathan Skillings