the Big Picture
November 6, 2009 (Use j/k keys to navigate)   Email to a friend    Permalink

Martian landscapes

Since 2006, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been orbiting Mars, currently circling approximately 300 km (187 mi) above the Martian surface. On board the MRO is HiRISE, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera, which has been photographing the planet for several years now at resolutions as fine as mere inches per pixel. Collected here is a group of images from HiRISE over the past few years, in either false color or grayscale, showing intricate details of landscapes both familiar and alien, from the surface of our neighboring planet, Mars. I invite you to take your time looking through these, imagining the settings - very cold, dry and distant, yet real. (35 photos total)

Intersecting swirling trails left by the earlier passage of dust devils across sand dunes, as they lifted lighter reddish-pink dust and exposed the darker material below. Also visible are darker slope streaks along dune edges, formed by a process which is still under investigation. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

An eroded crater in a larger plain with a scalloped appearance near Pavonis Mons. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Part of the Abalos Undae dune field. The sands appear blueish because of their basaltic composition, while the lighter areas are probably covered in dust. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A portion of the Martian South Polar Cap, showing stratified layers exposed by a long process of sublimation. More information here. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Exposure of Layers and Minerals in Candor Chasma. This image shows a cliff along a light-toned layered deposit in Valles Marineris. Erosion by wind has carved V-shaped patterns along the edges of many of the layers. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Avalanches on Mars' North Polar Scarps. Material, likely including fine-grained ice and dust and possibly including large blocks, has detached from a towering cliff and cascaded to the gentler slopes below. The cloud is about 180 meters (590 feet) across and extends about 190 m (625 ft) from the base of the steep cliff. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Pathfinder spotted on an ancient flood plain of the Ares and Tiu outflow channels. The bright spot visible at lower left is the Mars Pathfinder Lander, its ramps, science deck, and portions of the airbags visible. NASA's Pathfinder landed on Mars on July 4, 1997 and continued operating until September 27 of that year. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum. The crater is approximately 800 meters (about half a mile) in diameter. Layered sedimentary rocks are exposed along the inner wall of the crater, and boulders that have fallen from the crater wall are visible on the crater floor. NASA's Mars rover Opportunity explored this crater and its walls in 2006. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Close-up of tracks made by NASA's Mars rover Opportunity in the soil near Victoria Crater. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Linear dunes in the north polar region of Mars. Polygons formed by networks of cracks cover the substrate between the linear dunes and may indicate that ice-rich permafrost is present or has been present geologically recently in this location. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Scalloped sand dunes in the southern hemisphere of mars, displaying seasonal frost on the south-facing slopes, which highlights some of the regular patterns, as the frost forms only on parts of the ripples. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

This image shows lineated valley fill and lobate debris aprons in the Deuteronilus Mensae region. Many of the valley floors in this region exhibit complex alignments of small ridges and pits often called "lineated valley fill". The cause of the small-scale texture is not well understood, but may result from patterns in ice-rich soils or ice loss due to sublimation (ice changing into water vapor). More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A large barchan (crescent-shaped) dune, in a region where some dunes have been observed shrinking over several years. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

The edge of an approximately 6 km diameter crater in the southern hemisphere, laced with gullies leading down to the crater floor. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Dunes in a crater in Newton Basin that are eroding or covering a more coherent rock structure below. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

The south polar region of Mars is covered every year by a layer of carbon dioxide ice. In a region called the "cryptic terrain," the ice is translucent and sunlight can penetrate through the ice to warm the surface below. The ice layer sublimates (evaporates) from the bottom. The dark fans of dust seen in this image come from the surface below the layer of ice, carried to the top by gas venting from below. The translucent ice is "visible" by virtue of the effect it has on the tone of the surface below, which would otherwise have the same color and reflectivity as the fans. Bright streaks in this image are fresh frost. More information here. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

An impact crater on the south polar layered deposits. This is a small, approximately 330 meter (360 yard) diameter impact crater. The polar layered deposits on Mars are believed to be very young because there are no large craters on them and very few small craters. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Rocky mesas of Nilosyrtis Mensae region. Phyllosilicate (clay) minerals have been detected in this region by imaging spectrometers on the Mars Express and MRO spacecraft, and these minerals are of great interest in the search for evidence of life on ancient Mars. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Gullies, streaks, ripples and dust devil tracks on Russell Crater Dunes. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A 4 km diameter feature near the edge of the south polar residual cap. The bright areas in this image are covered by carbon dioxide frost, and the "swiss cheese" terrain typical of the south polar residual cap covers much of the imaged area. The dark walls of the circular depression do not have as much frost on them, and are fractured in a polygonal pattern. Apparently the surface of the walls has been extensively modified by thermal expansion and contraction of water ice. It also appears that the "swiss cheese" terrain of the residual cap has buried the floor of the circular depression, as well as the terrain surrounding the feature, making it difficult to infer the origin of this depression. More information here. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

HiRISE catches a dust devil blowing across the Martian surface east of the Hellas impact basin and south of Reull Vallis. The diameter of this dust devil is about 200 meters, but at the surface it is probably much smaller. Based on the length of the shadow in this image, the dust devil is on the order of 500 meters tall. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Erosion of the south polar residual ice cap, with exposed strata in pits surrounded by cracked polygonal features. More information here. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Light-toned layered deposits along the floor of Becquerel Crater, an impact crater in Arabia Terra. The deposits consist of stacked, repeating layers which consistently appear to be only a few meters thick. The surface of the deposits also appears to be cracked into blocks a meter or so in length. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Defrosting dunes in the north. In northern winter a seasonal polar cap composed of carbon dioxide ice (dry ice) forms in the north polar region. This cap covers a vast sea of dunes at high northern latitudes. In the spring the ice sublimates (evaporates directly from ice to gas) and this active process loosens and moves tiny dust particles. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Dunes line a valley floor in Ladon Valles, an outflow channel forming a segment of a larger system that heads in Argyre basin to the south and eventually links up with the larger Ares Valles outflow channel to the north. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A small impact crater, surrounded by ejecta, is filled in with rippled sand on the floor of Ritchey Crater. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Fuzzy-looking landscape near Tharsis Montes. Some parts of this image may appear out-of-focus at first. However, sharper-looking features such as the visible craters show that the fuzzy look is not an artifact of the image, but rather indicative of an extremely smooth surface. That smoothness is due to a thick layer of dust blanketing the landscape. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A Sample of flows and other landforms in Icaria Planum. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A sawtooth pattern in carbon dioxide ice in Mars' south polar region. More information here. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A valley in Elysium region volcanic rise. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A small crater partially buried in wind-blown ejecta from a much larger crater (below, out of frame). More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A large outcrop of layered rock in Aureum Chaos, an area that has apparently collapsed, leaving a region of irregular knobs and hills. Unlike many of the knobs, the light outcrop shows distinct, nearly horizontal layers. This may indicate that it was deposited after the collapse of the Chaos. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A gully along the inner wall of Western Hale Crater, shadowed by a raised crater rim. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

Gully-like features in a transition zone between plain and dune field. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #

A small impact crater, pitted knobs, and a criss-cross mesh of dust devil trails across the martian surface. More, or see location on Google Mars. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona) #


Thanks so much. I can't believe I am looking at Mars without having to go there :P - so beautiful- I love the colors, too. Great Job!

Posted by Colette Bert November 9, 09 12:34 PM

To "parkbench" (#115) - - - Hmmm ... "cheers" ... What a curious word you choose to close your joyless and cynical diatribe. You accuse Meg C (#62) of "romanticising" because she is "... wistful for the emotional energy, the wild-crazy hopes and dreams shared by whole countries of people" during the early years of space exploration. While I would certainly not disagree that the space programs of the superpowers during those years had definite military interests beyond pure science, I would also say that if you're looking for complete altruism in any govenment program, then I'm wondering who is really naive here. I'm glad that I'm old enough to remember President Kennedy's challenge to our country and Neil Armstrong's words as they came to us in crackled radio transmission from the surface of the moon some forty years ago now. Like Meg C., I also miss the absolute wonder associated with that time. Furthermore, I think our country would be far better off today if we fiscally recommitted our limited resources to space exploration as a priority, rather than long and protracted wars of questionable purpose and gain. Does this make me a romantic in your eyes? If so, I honestly couldn't care less. Some people choose to elevate their sites on beneficial scientific exploration which they believe to be possible, and strive in good faith toward achieving it despite the shortcomings of human nature. Some people choose to lower their focus of attention (and that of others) on the frailties, failures and hypocrisy, which are always inherent in any human endeavor. I'm wondering, "parkbench," what attitudes and accompanying world view do you think will most likely get us to Mars and beyond?

Posted by Steve November 9, 09 01:05 PM

These pictures are true art as God is the most wonderful painter and thanks to technology to bring these pictures to our lives.
Thank You.
Michah Himmelman

Posted by Michah Himmelman November 9, 09 01:11 PM

I've made 3 detailed relief models of Mars, one of which is in the Chicago Planetarium, and a friend who sent me this wants me to make more models of these images. Whether or not I do I think these images are just fantastic in the true sense of the word! I love space exploration, consider myself lucky to be alive now because of it, and privileged to have made a contribution with my models, however small.
And maybe, just maybe, such images will help to inspire mankind to explore what's out there and become more aware of the concept of 'Fragile Earth' and its beauty as a result. And grow out of the belief that the future has got to be one of political, national and commercial rivalry, and soap operas for the masses. the list goes on. As for a waste of money, apart from military budgets, we could have had a colony on Mars by now with the billions that have been given to the banks!

Posted by David Angus November 9, 09 01:44 PM

#115 Cool story bro

Posted by Ben Q. November 9, 09 02:07 PM

You folks here at did a great job of rotating and reframing these pics to focus on the beauty in them. I went and looked at the originals posted by scientists, and uh... yeah. Scientists are great but they don't often have an eye for photographic composition.

I prefer your lower-rez crops to their originals. Thanks!

Posted by Laroquod November 9, 09 02:28 PM

Hey Parkbench (#115), the Internet was created by the military too, so if you want to practice what you preach, turn off your computer and write us a letter instead.


Posted by Dave November 9, 09 02:34 PM

More proof that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe! All praise the glory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, yarrrghhh!

Posted by Pastafarian November 9, 09 02:57 PM

These are mysterious and beautiful! Any way to get some hi res stills for printing? I'd love to hang a few of these in my home!

Posted by Jim Fitzgerald November 9, 09 03:32 PM

By happy coincidence, I just happen to be listening to 'Mars, Bringer of War', Gustav Holst, The Planets, Op. 32. A fitting backdrop to such amazing a dramatic photes

Posted by pnoshaughnessy November 9, 09 03:57 PM

IF one could prove there was no god(s), would these images be any less beautiful? I think not. Appreciate these for their own beauty, not as proof that your particular jewish-christian-islamic-hindu-etc god exists, who will put a beat-down on those who believe in the wrong one!

Spectacular! Thank you, Universe!

Posted by InPortland November 9, 09 03:57 PM

I think about how much each of these pictures cost to make, of the doubtful necessity of this exploration, and wonder, "why do I thrill to these pictures. Why do I thrill to the thought of the exploration of the planets? Why am I not outraged at the enormous cost involved while our great grandchildren will still being paying off the national debt we incur. I must be a little mad.
Doug, in Utah.

Posted by Douglas S. Polhamius November 9, 09 04:02 PM

All I can say is... wow...

Posted by Star November 9, 09 04:43 PM

The beauty and texture, color and shades make me want to visit the red planet. It's sad to think that NASA has the designs and will to go, but lacks the money. A course to Mars would allign the world, and as fleeting as that may be, would be worth it to bask in the bright human spirit we all know exists.

Posted by Mr. Kit Wilkinson November 9, 09 04:47 PM

Oh, well, they made Copernicus withdraw his beliefs and so they did with Galileo, but the truth came out eventually. The universe gave us life, and people who believe a god made all this must be ignorant and blind.

Thank you for the photos. I think it is a wonderful thing that we can explore the universe, this is the final frontier for us. Instead of being mad about money being spent on science developments people should focus on other useless expenses that your governemnt is keeping itself busy with, or you spending your own money in stupid ways because the government tells you to.

Posted by L. November 9, 09 04:57 PM

Wow! Unbelievable pictures! I can't quite wrap my mind around our ability to see so much of objects so far away. Viewing Mars made me ponder what the faces of Earth would look like if it were devoid of all life. Imagine the variety of the Grand Canyon, the Sahara Desert, the Alps, our vast ocean bottoms sans water...... Not to take away from the amazing landscapes of Mars, just pondering.

Posted by V Seide November 9, 09 05:16 PM

A thank you to those who helped us all get a better glimpse at the universe around us, both near and far.

Posted by Bee November 9, 09 07:53 PM

Wonderful images, but I am disappointed not to have scale bars. Some of these images would be significantly more informative if their scale/size was available.

Posted by HeatherO November 9, 09 08:33 PM

It invokes a feeling of being utterly alone. Truely a world of untouched beauty and mystery.

Posted by Bahamut256 November 9, 09 10:17 PM

Imagine if we lived on Mars and were viewing high-res photos of Earth's stunning topology and geography -- oceans, coastlines, rivers, valleys, forests, jungles, glaciers, weather, etc. Talk about beautiful! It's a shame we don't fully appreciate the most beautiful, diverse, and interesting planet in the known universe, right under our own feet. These photos are stunning and the science is amazing to be sure. I only wish more people would realize the unique wonder that is the Earth. Imagine if they'd photographed a tree on Mars!

Posted by Slash November 9, 09 10:29 PM

I drove around one of those barchans over by Muleshoe on the way to Kermit just yesterday. They are really pretty. Thanks for fabulous photos.

Posted by Don Bundock November 9, 09 10:40 PM

To 154: There's nothing to prove. The firmaments declare His works! With the technology that now exists, it's easier than ever before to SEE the truth in that ancient passage.

Posted by tnvalleydude November 9, 09 11:54 PM

Too bad some people reject God. Interesting, I was just reading about the "Unpardonable Sin" - Thank you lord for making the universe so complicated yet simple and ordered at the same time.

Just like monkeys can't build a fire but, they can get burned.

Well done NASA! I agree that these are great steps in our space science. I think that each body of our solar system holds some value in our exploration of the universe but, I do share the same feelings that we should be taking care of our planet first.

The laws of averages indicate there should be similar planets like Earth out there but, it doesn't mean they possess intelligent life... does it?

Posted by Mark Koenig November 10, 09 12:14 AM

The pictures are amazing, the money it's worth, because it let us know how little we are, and beautifull its the hole universe. Cheers for the tecnology and all the people involve in the proyect.

I wish we could see other pictures soon.

Posted by Veronica Colorado November 10, 09 12:30 AM

I notice a comment from a pastor of all people that posted "A waste of money when people are dying of starvation here on earth" I'm sure like most NASA projects this gave thousands of family's jobs with health and retirement benefits. I should also mention that with several company's being involved in a project like this I'm sure some or even many of them contribute to programs that try and prevent starvation in third world country's. I think it's very sad that a man of religion would even think like this. These pictures are so very important on so many levels I can't begin to say how wrong this poor lost soul is. I hope Pastor Keith can open his eyes not only to the beauty of these amazing pictures but to the beauty of this great country we live in. God Bless America J

Posted by Joe Cowgur November 10, 09 01:11 AM

Einfach nur phantastisch!!!

Posted by Tammy November 10, 09 03:39 AM

Abosultely Magnificent! Wow.

Posted by Lance Winslow November 10, 09 03:55 AM

Fantastic images, and further proof that God doesn't exist.

Posted by Damon November 10, 09 04:41 AM

Why are so many people saying stuff like "yeah, let's go screw up Mars too". You act like the footprint of human presence is going to offend someone else. Who is that exactly?

Posted by Reggie November 10, 09 08:16 AM

@182: If the firmaments declare his works then why are Creationists so wrong?

If the universe is 6000 years old, then we could only see things that are 6000 light years away (give or take - redshift and all.)

The universe itself declares that your beliefs are incorrect.

Posted by K November 10, 09 09:02 AM

Science gives the answers, not religion. Beautiful pictures showing how far human efforts can reach.


Posted by Miguel Moya November 10, 09 10:42 AM

Dear Pastor Keith,
Wars prevent us from feeding everyone. Space exploration gives us hope. You should be able to appreciate that.

Posted by jason November 10, 09 12:29 PM

Beautiful ! But why does some clown always have to bring Gods into it.
Grow up, face life standing up, not on your knees, praying to some desert psychopath.

Posted by Mary Power November 10, 09 01:39 PM

These pictures are really astounding - it's amazing what modern astronomy can accomplish. The comments are almost as interesting to me as the pictures, however: it seems religious individuals of all stripes are quick to denounce any association between humanity's achievements and the sublime. Whenever the sublime appears, it seems that it is God who must be credited. Sadly, these comments correspond to a pattern which is demonstrable throughout human history: namely, one in which religious institutions are filled with fear and indignation at the wonders and advances of science. And rightly so - that science has been eroding their superstition for a long time. Thankfully, there are no more Inquisitions and anathemas with which these institutions can assert their power. Even so, those who see images such as these and must immediately turn to belittling humanity's accomplishments only serve to illustrate a long-standing point: namely, that they are afraid. They fear what humanity and science have the power to accomplish when they work together and cast aside superstition.

If God did indeed grant humanity free will, it is unreasonable to suggest that he did not intend us to use this free will to learn and understand more about our environment. It is ironic that the medieval Scholastics were seemingly far more progressive in their thinking than the fundamentalists of the 21st century. They believed that by studying the observable universe, they could learn more about God's mind and his purpose; to them, the truth of creation was discernible in the world around them. I wish that those who hold religious beliefs could subscribe to views more like these, appreciating the sublime beauty of our universe and, through it, experiencing a sense of spiritual affirmation rather than a desire to spread fear, hate, and condemnation. The world is never as simple as we like to think it is - if only people could be more open-minded.

At any rate, these images are marvellous. There is truly nothing more wondrous than this vast universe.


Posted by The Darkness November 10, 09 02:25 PM

where are the trees?

Posted by showaddywaddy November 10, 09 03:18 PM

Amazing images!!!

ditto #194 you said what I was thinking but couldn't express

Open you eyes

Posted by Ike November 10, 09 03:37 PM

I am astonished by these images, simply astounded. For once in a very long time I am pleased by the use of my tax money.

I'm also amused by "parkbench" and his accusations of trolling, when his own post seems carefully calculated to give offense and generate enraged responses, but he's not the main attraction here.

Posted by me November 10, 09 05:54 PM

Gorgeous !
And thanks # 194, well put !

Posted by cbean45 November 10, 09 05:57 PM

Re: what mike said November 7, 09 11:19 PM "Now we can high-res the surface of another world. The time has come to accept that science, not ancient beliefs in deities, is where our future lies"
I say.... we are so smart we are full of shit. we can't even cure a cold. we go to mars while people on earth starve to death for lack of food. we kill each other in war after war. we abort our children by the millions. yes we are so smart. we are so smart that soon we will be in world war 3 and when mike is in the firing line he will be praying to God to save his sorry ass. God have mercy on us all.

Posted by Brian November 10, 09 06:54 PM

Beautiful Pictures.
WE have marked another planet with our exploration.
The people who studied and experimented and built, launched, and received the signals from this great distance deserve thanks.
Cameras and datalinks have brought us beauty here. I think that will make up for the unhappiness brought by other cameras and datalinks (your own viewpoint Here).
I wish I could do the math to understand how the thin atmosphere of Mars can support "Dust Devels".

Posted by Pat Hamel November 10, 09 07:30 PM

Allahu Akbar

Posted by Ishmael Turik November 10, 09 07:43 PM

These are absolutely incredible pictures!

People's urges to smear their gods over everything is offensive. The discussion here was spoiled as soon as someone introduced religion. The pictures are quite simply the product of a thinking method altogether void of the supernatural; science, humanity's most successful endeavor. If you want to express your appreciation, then thank science and the scientists, and leave out the gods. Religion (and gods) had about as much to do with these pictures (and landscape) as astrology is responsible for the sunrise. Religion spoils everything.

Posted by Moses November 10, 09 08:51 PM

I want to go to Mars to experience the pictures for myself and get away from the kinds of people posting here. Attribute what you see to God or the laws of physics, just don't start getting distracted and froth at the mouth when baited with an opposing view. I mean damn I can ponder at the geological forces and chemical compositions that produced such surfaces and at the same time wonder which one of the 6 days He decided to magic that planet up. Doublethink baby, might just save you that coronary.

Posted by Freakintaco November 11, 09 01:00 AM

Does anyone know how I could obtain/buy one of these photos in a higher resolution. I would like to look at it on the wall!

Posted by Barbara November 11, 09 01:59 AM

Amazing Pictures of Mars! Good Job Big Picture!

recalling TOTAL RECALL movie of Arnold Schwarzenneger....I can't find him in the pictures above! "just kidding"

Keep up the Good Work BP!!!

Hwan Ma-tiu
Jubail Saudi Arabia

Posted by Huwan Ma Tiu November 11, 09 02:12 AM

amazing pictures. and omg, retarded comments.

Posted by monsieur pernod November 11, 09 04:41 AM

Wonderful pictures ! It would be more informative if the scale (km, 100km bar ? ) was systematically included.

Posted by Pascale Roy November 11, 09 05:41 AM

I love the way that some of them look like cells under a microscope [22] or the shadows of leafless trees [35].
The universe is just a fuck-off big mandelbrot set.

Posted by weavehole November 11, 09 07:27 AM

WHERE in ANY bible did god create mars?
What is wrong with you people?

Posted by someone who can think without some power doing it for them grr November 11, 09 08:00 AM

WOW fantastic NASA, now everyone can continue to get sick, grow old and die, happy that they have looked at some pictures of rocks, dirt and ice on another planet. Definitely worth a few billion $ and countless man hours of work.

Posted by murphy November 11, 09 08:43 AM

Try the first page...of any Bible.

Posted by papa November 11, 09 09:27 AM

@ 194, that's absolutely right! God gave us free will and that is what has drive us to accomplish all that we have so far!! All tech innovation that help us deal with the problems some are mentioning up above!

I like to see a man of science that also understands where it all came from!


Posted by Ricardo November 11, 09 12:21 PM

#194 "it seems religious individuals of all stripes are quick to denounce any association between humanity's achievements and the sublime. "

I'm not sure what that blanket statement means. Bottom line is that God created all we see, in the way He stated that He created it. He alone gets the credit; man can observe and be thankful for the immense beauty, but man's ideas of how God created are irrelevant, God already states how and when and why. And man's ideas that it all blew together by chance is absurd. These images show His power even more than we have seen in the past, and we have no excuse to think otherwise. Romans chapter 1 is quite clear about that. Be careful not to worship the creation over the Creator.

Posted by Paul November 11, 09 01:06 PM

115 and 199 and all the other so-called peaceniks who decry spending "in space" rather than "solving the worlds problems", and claim it is all militarism. You people are really rather sick.

NASA spending is about 1% of the national budget. We already spend a majority of the federal budget on "solving the worlds problems" and they aren't getting solved with money. The more free medicine you make available, the more people will use it, increasing demand and therefore cost, simple economics. People don't survive on handouts, and as for the Pastor, you should know you can't fill people spiritually on handouts either. Go teach a man to fish, Father.

NASA programs inspire people to dream of a future they want to be in, and in which they want to be educated to live in productively. Therefore NASA programs instill hope for tomorrow and show us the universe in a way that helps to remind us what a beautiful place, and miraculous creation it all is. These photos are a great example of that.

Parkbench, your very nickname belies that you are a self-designated spectator and critic, you lack the motivation to do, which is why you fake up false theories about the motivations of those who actually do accomplish things. You are a very sad sack.

These photos help illustrate to the public that Mars is, while its own creation, still a very Earth-like place. It holds the resources we can survive on as explorers, and which we can terraform it into a second Earth to become a new cradle of humanity, and by doing so, freeing us of existential threats from militarism while also helping to teach that we are all one people, one race. Against the backdrop of the immensity and beauty of the universe, our own squabbles and problems are miniscule.

Posted by Mike Lorrey November 11, 09 01:07 PM

Hey, #115: you're staying home.

Posted by Anonymous November 11, 09 01:14 PM

Quote : "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Galileo Galilei
There will be a day when humans are thankful we learned how to leave when resources run out. No different then humans walking to better opportunity in our beginning. Thank You Jesus, Thank You Lord
Where should we draw the line? We need to survive, so we need to explore. I hope humans survive long enough to find options. I hope my great great grandchildren and beyond have hope for their children. Imagine where we'd be if we didn't have God given abilities. Be careful what you say about Gods creations including humans. Also glad for the freedom to express our selves. Without exploration, and struggle this forum wouldn't be here either. Jerry Rowe/Port Townsend, WA. U.S.A.
God Speed to you confused hypocrites too!

Posted by Jerry R (Lightspeedsquared) Clear & Dark November 11, 09 02:21 PM

To all of those who are saying that these images are proof of a god's existence. Your religious beliefs are completely independent of these images. This is science not religion, everything in these images can be explained through scientific reasoning. You have no proof of any god existing. Therefore it's irrelevant to say so in a scientific subject.

Beautiful desolation in these images, I've already seen several of them. Amazing how it's so obvious through these images that water once flowed on the surface. Mars approaches opposition on January 29th.

Posted by Andromeda November 11, 09 03:17 PM

Fantastic God created landscape "Pollution Free Environment".

Posted by Claude November 11, 09 07:20 PM

According to scientific research and all the astronauts who have seen earth from space, they have said that we live in a tiny little marble like place, compared to the universe. Our little eartly capsule with all its beauty does not compare with the vastness and complexity of the universe. So you all, just think about how limited is our understandid of what lies beyoun the desolated and strage beauty of the planet Mars! If we could just take a leap from here to there, we could see our tiny little capsul, and maybe we coudl then understand that our brains are inside a nanotube, when we denied the esistance of a greater power called God.,

Posted by rrmassey November 11, 09 09:55 PM

Religion is man made Andromeda. So is the the human explanation. (Science) I hate the baggage of religion that has kept science slow, and rights oppressed for us all. Now my faith in God is private, and if eternity exist there is a heaven, and anthing else you can imagine. But most of all, if science wasn't stopped in ancient times, maybe we would have learned the mistake of burning carbon base fuel which have brought us to an irreversable position of damage and extinction. Science was learned long ago but oppressed and lossed. We had to relearn. Hope its not too late.
Cant wait to put Mars through my lightbucket again! These beautiful pics leave little for the imagination but my GEM Time Machines are fun too.
Clear and Dark

Posted by Jerry Rowe November 11, 09 11:11 PM

Wow! I didn't know Mars looked like that! That's pretty awesome. My next summer vacation is the 3rd picture from the top! :)

Posted by Avery November 11, 09 11:13 PM

Barren wasteland devoid of life or any sign of life. We need to protect and know what we have here on this planet called Earth. Probably the only place we will ever know that life exists is here on our mother Earth. We need not argue about who believes what or how, we need to find solutions to conservation of our home planet. We can do so, because we can think and we can plan.

Posted by Scott November 12, 09 12:15 AM

These are beautiful. When you see these, it forces you to re-evaluate the planets as we know them. It will be interesting to see what Venus looks like. Also, religion and science aside, logic makes it clear that something had to exist over and above regular science, otherwise nothing would exist in the first place. The universe is an enormous place; there is room for the scientists and religious folks. For the scientists, if you have a good explanation for creation that I can't question, try me. For the religious, don't get so wrapped up in trying to prove your deity's existence. Faith needs no proof; that's why it's faith.

Posted by thoughts at midnight November 12, 09 12:27 AM

Nice points #223 but science in terms of the 'creation' also requires considerable faith, It's up to the individual where he puts his/her faith.

Posted by murray November 12, 09 06:29 AM


Hyper bravo to the scientist allowing such fantastic travel via these photos

Posted by max November 12, 09 08:40 AM

I don't see a Walmart.

Posted by Christophe Johnston November 12, 09 09:49 AM

O-o-o our Future... Hi Future Earth...

Posted by michael November 12, 09 10:04 AM

#213: I have always thought it ironic and more than a little hypocritical when people who believe in the biblical account of creation use words like "absurd." What you must try to do is realise that yours is not the only point of view - that there are many of other faiths (not to mention people who consciously avoid subscribing to any faith) who hold your own beliefs to be absurd. Scriptural authority is inherently weak because it lacks a reinforcing logical principle. That is to say, it is tautological: the Scriptures are right because they are right; if anyone questions why they should be accepted as truth, their defenders will simply say that they are true and move on without providing a real reason. The problem with this is that the adherents of many other religions will, if questioned, simply say that their own myths and fonts of authority are also inherently true. Even while you may believe that they are all wrong, they think exactly the same thing about you. So what makes you right? You have your faith that you are correct; the others have exactly the same thing. The debate can never be settled because in the end there is no logic involved. Those who believe in mythological creation and the inherent but unprovable authority of ancient texts have no ground on which to argue against others' beliefs while still claiming that logic and reason are on their side.

Science, by contrast, does not draw its authority from "inherent" (but ultimately empty) truth. A scientific understanding of the universe's origins is reinforced by hundreds of thousands of experiments, all of which are demonstrable and verifiable, and many of which point to the same conclusions about the formation of stars, planets, and galaxies. And before someone inevitably raises the misbegotten argument that atheism is itself a religion, it is not. To say that atheism is a religion is like saying that baldness is a hair colour. Atheism is the conscious rejection of superstition that cannot be validated empirically and that has proven, time and again, to be little more than a tool for ideological and political control. The fact that so many religious fanatics can be found defending their illogical views alongside these beautiful images is simply proof of what I established earlier: that they are afraid. They are afraid of knowledge, they are afraid of discovery, and they are afraid of their own species' potential for innovation and development. Religions had their chance to lead the world: they gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Jihad, among others. It is time for them to step aside and let reason take the helm. Religions may have their place in giving their believers comfort and guidance, but those who attempt to impose their illogical judgements on these images and the science they represent are doing nothing more than prove that their antiquated dogmas are fearful, and rapidly crumbling.

Posted by The Darkness November 12, 09 12:10 PM

Nice to see our new home before we finish demolishing our current one! Is there any oil on Mars?

Posted by One Hiccup November 12, 09 12:24 PM

What's with the God freaks? Was there a link from Drudge Report?

Posted by Benyamin November 12, 09 12:46 PM

Why dont you put out more pictures like this so peeps "like "Richard Hoagland dont use the blurry crap pictures to say there are structures on the planet.

Posted by Von Rader November 12, 09 02:11 PM

#228, I agree that religion has spawned some atrocities. However I must also disagree with you. Science can explain much, however certain things simply cannot be explained by scientists. How is the assertion that science can explain everything anything less than asserting the "inherent truth" that you so vigorously go against in religion? I personally am an agnostic; I feel that science is a great thing and can help immensely, however some things we simply have to take on faith. Actually, speaking on a level of quantum mechanics as I understand them, there is the possibility that I will simply disassociate into my component atoms, however I take it on faith that that won't happen. If you truly go entirely by what science has proven, then you would be a nihilist and not bother to do anything, believing that nothing has any purpose.

To your assertion that basically all religion is evil, let me acquaint you with several verses from several holy scriptures. from the Koran: [2.224] "And make not Allah because of your swearing (by Him) an obstacle to your doing good and guarding (against evil) and making peace between men, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing." as well as [14.23] "And those who believe and do good are made to enter gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them by their Lord's permission; their greeting therein is, Peace." From the Torah: Deutronomy 10.19 "Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." and Leviticus 19.18 "19 Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.". from the New testament: John 15.12 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." and Luke 16.13 "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Religion hasn't given us the Crusades and the Inquisition. People have given us the Crusades and the Inquisition. Just like they gave us the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasake, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Purges in Stalin's Russia, and the removal of Native Americans. As for the Jihad, have you actually looked it up? The Jihad isn't truly about violence. A Jihad isn't necessarily war. It is regretfully interpreted that way by many, but it can also mean a goal to strive for, or to spread the will of Allah. It doesn't necessarily mean violence at all. In fact, due to the rest of the Koran, it is better interpreted to mean non-violence, or if any violence, only in self defense. Also, remember that religion doesn't impose anything. The leaders may be afraid of change, but bashing them isn't going to change anything. The only way to change is logical discussion. There are some fanatics who insist that everything be subject to the letter of their personal scriptures, but most have a subclause somewhere involving tolerance. They may try to convert you, but it shouldn't be a demand. The ones being the most vocal are often the ones with the least attachment to the vast body of worshipers.
Also, #230, "God freaks"? C'mon, lets not resort to names. How would you like being called a science freak?

Posted by thoughts at midnight November 12, 09 04:37 PM

what gets me is how it's simultaneously alien and familiar. i love the variety, not just a uniform red plain of a planet. stunning.

Posted by Anonymous November 13, 09 12:16 AM

Who cares HOW Mars (or anything else) got to be the way it is? No matter how it happened, it's equally amazing.

Posted by Art November 13, 09 01:11 AM

How wonderful is His creation!

Thank you for brining these stunning pictures.

Posted by Avi November 13, 09 03:35 AM

AWESOME. There is no other word for it.

Posted by Sam Lacey November 13, 09 04:00 AM

mindblowing pics man never in my life have i visited such a place not even my dream

Posted by RUMA November 13, 09 07:21 AM

Wow - some of these would be called "rivers" and "liquid water effects" if they were pictures of earth. NASA's attitude to mars is very entertaining. It's good how they hide the most compelling data.

Google M1501228 and study that image strip closley. Let's hope they release MRO pictures of that area.... Google M01501228 for a video of it.

Posted by Andrew Johnson November 13, 09 12:14 PM

I am impressed with the high definition of these pics. Can't wait to see some extreme closeups of locations of high interest for water, life, etc. I've seen some very interesting shots that look like trees, lakes, etc. on other sites. Hopefully, closeups of these will clear up the misinterpretation of those areas. Well done, NASA. These two projects on Mars, and the Hubble Space Telescope, are your best efforts since the Moon landings.

Posted by Jim Scott November 13, 09 01:54 PM

#194 just pwned everyone!

Awesome pics, scales woulda been nice, along with an image of Mars (google mars) on the exact location of what's being shown. Since they've been taking photos for so many years i wonder if there is any time-lapse photography of the planet? So that we can see these dust devils and dry ice evaporation occuring.. that'd be awesome!

Its interesting to me how these images look very much like hi-res closeups of matter under a microscope.

Posted by Allan B November 13, 09 04:56 PM

#238- I Googled it, and looked at both the image and the video that zoomed in on the sections that are presumably interesting, as well as discussions of what these features represent. I see nothing more remarkable or inexplicable than any of the images above. I certainly see nothing more than geology. It is, I admit, quite interesting geology, and I too would be excited to see some higher-resolution photographs. I don't anticipate that a clearer image will reveal lakes of liquid water, or Martian technology/architecture, or anything of the sort. I expect that, like the Martian Jesus face, future study will reveal merely a collection of rocks and shadows and dust that make interesting patterns, patterns that change with image quality.

Mars is under very close scrutiny. A Martian civilization is not going to be hiding in one photograph among millions.

Posted by Angela; Portland, OR November 13, 09 05:26 PM

Post 238.
Sounds like you have the inside on this one. Whats your take on the data in these strips.
Someone with Ph.D. in thier name and works for NASA should be telling us.

Posted by Von Rader November 13, 09 05:37 PM

Completely awesome!

Posted by Tom 7 November 13, 09 06:35 PM

Subhanallah! Glory to God with his creations!

Posted by Peace November 13, 09 07:50 PM

Glory to God!? When will we just grow up and out of this fairy-tale?
If it's all god-made, what's the purpose of it all? A whole universe for a small bug in such a small star system?

The true amazement that only an atheist can feel is to think that all that is was formed in billions of years by all the laws of the universe we already understand and by some others we will understand one day. There is really no need for a god to exist in order for such images to be taken, appreciated, studied and analyzed.

Do you, theist friends, really really believe that God has carefully created all the small details on the Martian soil we see on those pictures?

Posted by Rafael November 13, 09 10:09 PM

Can we have wallpaper formats of these, I'd love to have them as my laptop's background

Posted by kamikazit November 13, 09 10:55 PM

There is no god.
All religion is nothing more than superstition.

Posted by Eric November 13, 09 11:10 PM

Gotta admit, these pictures sure sturd a lot of people. Cool ! I would'nt ever have thought what mars looked like through any of my telescopes !
I will imagine a lot more when I do. Amazing ! Creation, It is a big question? Its science all right, but its God too... Dont You Think?
Since Ive learned more about the history of the universe, beginning to really grasp whats happening in time space, and that infinity just might be a physical posibility, then we better look at these pictures in every way !
Comment at will ! Why Not?

Posted by Jerry Rowe November 13, 09 11:38 PM

These images are beautiful. Many thanks to all who contributed to bringing them to us.

The most startling thing, noticed especially in the first two photos, is how alien and yet familiar these vistas are. The first photo looks like a close up of maybe a square mm of dermus yet is actually many square km of planet surface. The pictures of dust trails look like draconian tatoos, yet rather than something that was scarred they are something that is laid bare. In is out, up is down, focus is fluffy. When we view these images, we must leave the familiar behind, and open our minds to possibilites - all possibilites.

Very beautiful. Very haunting. Very compelling.

Posted by Kat November 14, 09 05:06 AM

Será esse o futuro da terra? parece que a maioria destes cenários já tiveram abundância de água!

Posted by Luiz November 14, 09 05:55 AM

Its only me or pic #11 look like its moving?
Great and exciting stuff

Posted by Guy November 14, 09 10:39 AM

#194 & #228 - VERY WELL SAID. I hope you don't mind if I borrow your logic, as it is better stated than I have ever been able to come up with myself.

All the religious nonsense aside, these are incredible pictures. Sometimes it's difficult to justify all the money spent on space exploration, but with governments around the world spending trillions of dollars to try and buy our way out of a recession, and often spending it poorly, the money spent to explore near space suddenly looks like a fantastic investment.

Posted by Ken T November 14, 09 11:13 AM

Lol @ 150.

Trisha really thinks humanity doesn't have the power to destroy it's own planet?

It's no wonder this country is crumbling at our feet. People like her get a vote.

Posted by MartinEZ November 14, 09 01:14 PM

These are indeed the most amazing photos and we are privileged to be able to see them and be part of the generation that is at the forefront of discovery of this wonderful planet.
To all the different brands of religious nutjobs that insist on selling their flavor of god, when will you open your eyes and see that belief in a higher power is a leftover from darker days when people couldn't explain what they were seeing, and had a fear of dying that was so great they invented an afterlife to make them feel more at ease when the time came. Get over it, or keep it to yourself. Feel free to engage in a sensible, intellectual conversation or go back to your barn and bleat your crap to others like yourself.

Posted by Kevin Rudd November 14, 09 05:59 PM

Stunning pictures,and thank you for posting them.

Isn't it sad and amazing that such fascinating science almost immediately gives rise to antagonistic postings from religious and anti-religious folks. Whether God made it, or God set the parameters of the Universe that caused it to be made, or random chance caused it - it's a fantastic achievement that has enabled mankind to take these pictures.
I happen to be a minister (in England, where we get less worked-up than in some places) but I cannot see why we can't all admire the magnificence of what we see regardless of our beliefs or lack of, and without slagging off each other.

Posted by Keith Jillings November 14, 09 08:55 PM

Thanks for posting - wonderful! I'm always amazed at how important it is for atheists to YELL out their points and how angry and simple minded they seem to be. Science is something complex and beautiful and thank God, consistent. The rest is up to us...get it? It's actually a brilliant plan - and we are free to choose that way. Free. And I don't need to understand the exact origin everything for it to be real to me. I trust that love is real magic. And no, believing in God doesn't mean I think that he "makes" every little thing like some robotic Christmas elf. It's much more complex - and in fact - much more simple than that. Beautiful images! Why do people need to argue about how this got there to enjoy it? Please just do. It's thrilling to be a part of this miracle called life. What a true gift to be alive and be a human being with such potential as to take photos of Mars. Wow!!! Unbelievable. Peace~Love~Joy and God Bless. ~Angel22

Posted by Angel22 November 14, 09 11:46 PM

you will laugh a little,but a lot you will cry when you see the Reality.

Posted by think tank November 15, 09 11:39 AM

Fantastic!!! Even though, I find the images have something frightening in spite of their beauty. All the landscapes and patterns are so mathematically and physically correct -- but when only the physical laws rule, without the intervention of life with all it's messy irregularities -- that's what it looks like!
Fantastic, but dead, perfect, but too perfect.

Posted by Brummbaer November 15, 09 02:31 PM

Hey #210 - Murphy - I'm all for the comparatively small amount NASA and JPL invest in taking the world on an armchair tour of the solar system. Most other government spending is on things that are (multiple choice) wasteful, onerous, frightening or dangerous (all of the above?). It's nice to know that in contrast a tiny percent goes toward something fascinating which no previous generation has been privileged to see. Keep it up!

Posted by Nicholas Herlick November 15, 09 04:35 PM

beautiful pictures..... it is sad how we have to lower this conversation to "you're stupid" " no you are stupider"
I wish I could go to Mars and get away from all this arguing.
( It must be sad to feel like an accidental bug in a giant empty bowl)

Posted by SHUT UP MORONS November 15, 09 10:07 PM
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