Saturday, September 5, 2009


The folks at NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona at Tucson have got a treat for space buffs (I typed "space butts" twice before I could get my finger on the "F" key): High-resolution photos of Mars. They're available in the public domain here. They're not necessarily Google Earth high-res, but they're the highest resolution images we've got of the Red Planet, bringing to pass the prophetic and enigmatic saying of Arthur C. Clarke's spaceman in Imperial Earth. His minor character Robert Kleinman, who perished while exploring Saturn, said "Space is small. Only the planets are big." Looking at these images will remind you of that.

Gullies in Hale Crater

No, I have no idea where Hale Crater is. But looking at these photos makes me want to figure it out.
It's fascinating to see how similar Mars' landforms are to those we're used to seeing on Earth. It's easy to look at these photos and imagine wind or water creating these forms. Sure, they're landforms you might see in the bleakest portions of the Badlands or the Great Basin, but they're familiar landforms (gullies, dunes, et cetera) that you're used to seeing on Earth.

Ridges in the Northwest Meridiani Planum

I've spent more than a half hour screening the images, and each one seems more fascinating than the next. Tie all this in with Google's ambitious but lower-res Google Mars, and you've got some fun tools to play with. I'm ready to go explore on Mars. NASA, when are you going to take me there?

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