The photo was captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as it looped around the planet and, as NASA explains, was originally shot so that scientists could track the changes to the many sand dunes that dot the surface. However, after seeing what they captured, NASA decided to show off the photo on its own, and it sure is neat.
The image, which you can view in full resolution thanks to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is incredibly detailed. It shows the cracked, rocky crust of the planet arranged in a tile-like design with the dusty dunes spilling over it. It’s a fantastic image, and NASA has an idea of how the geological processes of Mars made it all possible.
If we make it another couple decades, humans will live on Mars. Your kids will live on Mars. You might live on Mars. How will you do it?
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If this sort of imagery is something that interests you, you _really_ should check out the ‘This is Mars’ book – it’s pretty much chock full of nicely printed 12″x14″ish b&w images of the surface, shot by the MRO/HiRISE.
You can likely find all the images in the HiRISE catalog online as well, and more, but it’s a nice representation of interesting features, and I quite enjoy flipping through dead trees. Contains a few interesting reads regarding the mission, geology, and history too.