These amazing color enhanced images of Mars courtesy of NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers offer hauntingly beautiful landscapes, sunsets, and detailed examples of volcanic rock and hematite spherules.
Images like these can’t help but excite our interest in space exploration, helping humanity realize the almost limitless number of planets and solar systems that are waiting to be explored. It’s a shame humanity can’t reconcile its petty inclinations for war and geopolitical wrangling. Just imagine how much we could accomplish and discover were we to invest more of our valuable resources in science and education.
1. Martian blueberries
These tiny spherules, aptly named martian “blueberries”, are an iron oxide mineral deposit that is often formed in aqueous environments or from volcanic eruptions. Understanding how these hematite globules were formed on Mars is key to determining if life ever existed on the planet.
2. Martian sunset
After wheeling itself to the edge of Gustev crater, NASA’s rover Spirit took this timely image of a sunset. The sun appears smaller because Mars orbits further away from the sun than does earth.
3. Shifting sand dunes
These sand dunes are particularly stunning for their sunlit crests and their eerie resemblance to sand dunes on earth.
These volcanic rocks can easily be mistaken for those found on some of the beaches and sands of Hawaii.
5. Dunes covered in gypsum
The low spaces of these dunes are covered in gypsum, a type of mineral that is formed in the presence of water. This offers yet more evidence to support the claim that Mars may have once harbored running water.
6. Erebus Crater
NASA’s Opportunity rover took this image on February 6th, 2006. The Erebus crater measures approximately 350 meters (1,000 feet) in diameter.
7. Victoria Crater
After having spent more than a year exploring Erebus, the Opportunity rover spent the next two and a half years exploring the Victoria crater, which is approximately 730 meters (2,200 feet) in diameter. This panoramic images provides viewers some perspective on the sheer scale of this crater.
8. Sunlit tracks
The Opportunity rover’s tracks exposes the rich hue of red that distinguishes the martian soil and sand.
9. Yep, more sand
This image shows Mars’ seemingly endless plains of sand.
10. Newton Crater Slope
This image was taken by the Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2011, and is a reprojection (a kind of composite) of several images taken of the area. The dark vertical lines marking these slopes are thought to be liquid salt water that melts during the summer and spring seasons, hence darkening the soil (these fade during fall and winter as the liquid salt water dries and freezes)