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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Strange Places on Mars: What Do You Want to See Next? | Wired Science |

Strange Places on Mars: What Do You Want to See Next?

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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured more than 13,000 images of the red planet’s surface. And now, the space agency wants your input on what images to acquire next.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera is currently the most powerful camera on any NASA spacecraft. The images it has collected are truly amazing. They highlight how similar the Martian landscape is to Earth in some ways, as well as how otherworldly other parts of Mars can seem.

We’ve collected just a few of the oddest and most beautiful shots. If they inspire you to want to pick the next strange location for HiRISE to focus on, NASA has created a website where you can scan the planet’s surface and make suggestions.

The image above shows a dune field on the floor of a crater made by an asteroid impact.

Click on any image in this gallery for a higher-resolution version.

Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This image of layered deposits on a plateau in the Valles Marineris region of Mars was taken in 2007 by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image shows about three-fourths of a mile across. Scientists think the layers contain opaline silica and iron sulfates formed through alteration by acidic water.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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