2 years ago
The Martian surface, once a great unknown, is now more visible and colorful than ever before. NASA has released a remarkable 1,000 images of Mars. The latest snapshots come from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, known for short as HiRise. The state-of-the-art camera is situated aboard NASA’a $720 million Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft that initially launched in 2005.
What sets this latest batch of photos apart is the sheer number of them. As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, these photographs were possible because they were taken during a unique window in May when the Red Planet aligned with the Earth and Sun. The unprecedented detail captured by the telescopic lens features diverse terrain ranging from sand dunes to ice caps.
According to NASA’s website, “these high-resolution images enable scientists to distinguish 1-meter-size (about 3-foot-size) objects on Mars and to study the morphology (surface structure) in a much more comprehensive manner than ever before.”
In the age of social media and instant global communication, many have dubbed HiRISE “the people’s camera.” The images are beamed down to Earth in real time, allowing the public to interact with outer space in a completely new way. Individuals have been invited by NASA to make their own observation requests, and even collaborate with the HiRISE team to analyze data collected on Mars.
The primary objective of HiRISE is to help geologists and astronomers determine the optimal touchdown point for the next Mars rover, which is scheduled to launch in May of 2018. The latest images may be one small step on the “Journey to Mars,” NASA’s goal of putting humans on Mars by the 2030s, but it’s a giant leap for those interested in simply seeing the Martian surface.
Check out the rest of the photos here.