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Beautiful Mars

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA. We are the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, based out of the University of Arizona.

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University of Arizona

Bolkonsky’s infinite heavens. (Saturday)

University of Arizona Libraries

A day like this. (Friday)

On the Southeast Rim of Leighton Crater The bedrock along the southeast rim may expose some of the layered material that is seen in the central uplift of this massive, ancient crater. Note also the much smaller impact crater on the crater wall with a still-dark material around it. Leighton Crater is 65 kilometers in diameter and located in the Tyrrhena Terra region of the southern highlands of Mars. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Lava Flow in the Alba Fossae Region The objective of this observation is to examine what may be a fissure eruption. There also appears to be a lava flow with a channel in the center. Alba Fossae is located on the northwestern margin of Alba Mons, itself an immense, low-lying volcano that is the largest on Mars in terms of area. (It’s only one-third the height of Olympus Mons, the tallest volcano on the Red Planet.) NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Exposed in Cross-Section The floor of this small impact crater has been exposed by erosion, permitting analysis of the crater’s subsurface structure. This image is located in southern Candor Chasma, above the massive Valles Marineris canyon system. The crater is less than 5 kilometers across. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Mass Movement of Material The objective of this observation is to determine the nature of what looks like some type of mass movement from a mound. An arc-shaped ridge has formed at the base. This is in Deuteronilus Mensae, which is between the old, heavily cratered southern highlands and the low plains of the Northern Hemisphere. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Purple majesty. (Sunday)

Navajo/Pinal "Stadium" Hall

Like the Monolith, but friendlier. (Saturday)

U of A

Something wicked this way comes. (Friday)

Layers in Danielson Crater This image shows sedimentary rock and sand within Danielson Crater, an impact crater 67 kilometers in diameter, located in the southwest Arabia Terra region of Mars. The rock was formed millions or billions of years ago when loose sediments settled into the crater, one layer at a time, and were later cemented in place. Cyclical variations in the sediment properties made some layers more resistant to erosion than others. After eons, these tougher layers protrude outward like stair steps. Across these steps, the winds have scattered sand (typically appearing darker and less red, i.e. ”bluer” in contrast-enhanced color), giving rise to the zebra stripe-like patterns. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Frost Highlights in the Springtime This image of a crater rim strikingly shows what appear to be bright white flows coming from gullies in the crater wall. However, HiRISE has been watching these gullies for some time (going all the way back to our first observation in 2012 and the flow features have been there for years. The new aspect is the bright white coloration, which is frost. This is the earliest in the springtime that this area has been observed, and just like some winter mornings here on Earth, the conditions on Mars can be just right for frost to form. The interesting thing is that the frost appears on the gully deposits and not as much on the surrounding rock, indicating the physical properties of the gully deposits are different. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The Bedrock Riddles of Nili Fossae This image of the Nili Fossae region, to the west of the great Isidis basin, shows layered bedrock with many impact craters. Nili Fossae is one of the most mineralogically important sites on Mars. Remote observations by the infrared spectrometer onboard MRO (called CRISM) suggest the layers in the ancient craters contain clays, carbonates, and iron oxides. However, the impact craters have been degraded by many millions of years of erosion so the original sedimentary, impact ejecta, or lava flows are hard to distinguish. The bright linear features are sand dunes, also known as “transverse aeolian dunes,” because the wind direction is at ninety degrees to their elongated orientation. This shows that the erosion of Nili Fossae continues to the present day. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Avalanche Season Every spring the sun shines on the side of the stack of layers at the North Pole of Mars known as the north polar layered deposits. The warmth destabilizes the ice and blocks break loose. When they reach the bottom of the more than 500 meter tall cliff face, the blocks kick up a cloud of dust. The layers beneath are different colors and textures depending on the amount of dust mixed with ice. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The spell of dusk. (Sunday)

University of Arizona

Desert abstraction. (Saturday)

Streamlined Islands in Hrad Vallis This image shows a portion of Hrad Vallis, an approximately 400-meter deep and 800-kilometer long depression located in the Elysium Planitia. Hrad Vallis is one of several channel systems that are found just west of the Elysium volcanoes. The scoured floor of Hrad Vallis shows the effects of erosion, presumably by water. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Slope Streaks in Bahram Vallis Usually, slope streaks that are light-toned like these indicate that they’re fading away, after initially having the darker subsurface exposed. Given more time, they will likely disappear completely, but that’s something we can monitor. Bahram Vallis is an ancient river valley about 302 kilometers long, and is named for the word “Mars” in Persian. If you look closely at the center of the enhanced color cutout, you can see boulder tracks NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Exposure of Layers and Minerals in Candor Chasma Scanning across several kilometers of relief, this image shows a cliff along a light-toned layered deposit in Valles Marineris. This particular cliff was targeted because of the excellent exposure of layering and the identification of the minerals kieserite (a mineral containing magnesium) and hematite (an iron oxide). The hematite appears in the darker low-lying region near the lower left of the image and the kieserite is associated with the light-toned layers. The fact that these minerals are found here with a layered deposit suggests that water may have been involved in the deposition of these minerals and the layers. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

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