Feeds

Mars HiRISE images wow the crowd

New close-up pics of the Red Planet

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has delivered its first close-up snaps of the Martian surface, courtesy of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).

The images, taken during the Orbiter's first mapping orbit, include this fine view of an area of the planet's Valles Marineris canyon grabbed on 29 September from an altitude of 280km:

HiRISE image of Ius Chasma

The accompanying HiRISE information centre blurb explains that "this sub-image covers a small portion of the floor of Ius Chasma, one branch of the giant Valles Marineris system of canyons", centered on -7.8 degrees latitude, 279.5 degrees East longitude.

The picture (full-fat version available here) shows "bedrock exposures of layered materials, which could be sedimentary rocks deposited in water or from the air", plus "a few dunes" of windblown sand (bottom right).

HiRISE also recorded this nice image of the "north polar layered deposits" (Flash zoomable version available here):

Deposits at Mars's north pole

The bands seen here "may represent annual deposition of water ice and dust that is thought to form the polar layered deposits", which "are thought to record global climate variations on Mars, similar to ice ages on Earth". The bright spots, the boffins reckon, are probably patches of water frost.

HiRISE team member Nicolas Thomas of the University of Bern in Switzerland told New Scientist: "HiRISE's unprecedented resolution will allow the layers to be probed in finer detail than ever before in order to understand these climatic shifts."

The pics would, he added, give scientists something to ponder until they can physically drill into the Red Planet to probe its history. He noted: "The only way we can do this now is with remote sensing using a high-resolution camera."

Thomas also confirmed that HiRISE captured some colour images, which are still being processed. "From working on it, I can already tell you that it's going to be good," he promised. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.