Archive for the ‘Mars Art’ category

Model Mars Landscapes!

January 25, 2010

Check out these spectacular new photos of Mars! It certainly looks like the rovers have stumbled upon some more interesting terrain! The only catch is, these aren’t pictures of Mars at all, they are photographs of models made of, among other things, paprika, chili powder, and charcoal. They are the work of Matthew Albanese, and you need to go check out some of his other photographs. There are steel-wool tornadoes, faux-fur fields, and this spectacular glowing volcano:

(Hat tip to Ann Martin, fellow Cornell Astronomer and blogger at the ALFALFA blog for sharing the link to these pictures!)


Big Picture HiRISE Gallery!

November 6, 2009

Speaking of Mars art, the Big Picture blog (which all of you should be following by now) has a feature on images of Mars taken by HiRISE. Head on over and take a look. Mars is a really pretty and often bizarre-looking place.

[PS – Have you voted today?]


Mars Art: Mind-blowing Swiss Cheese

November 6, 2009

First of all, a reminder to go vote on my article about MSL, which is a finalist in the science writing competition.

Ok, done? Good. I wanted you to do that before I showed you this image because it may very well break your brain. This is a HiRISE image of the so-called “swiss cheese” terrain at the south pole of mars. The terrain is formed by the sublimation of CO2 ice, which forms weird rounded pits. Yes, the round things in this picture are pits.The smooth parts are mesas and the illumination is from the lower right. Pictures like this always make my brain hurt because for some reason I want to see the round depressions as bulges! And if you think this is bad, try watching a scientific presentation with dozens of pictures like this, with varying orientations and illumination angles. I rarely get anything out of Mars south pole talks because my brain is so busy struggling to see the images properly.


Believe it or not, illumination is from the lower right in this image. Click the image to go to the HiRISE page and check out the full sized versions.

Mars Art: HiRISE Dust Devils and Dusty Dunes

October 15, 2009

It’s been a while since I posted any “Mars art” but I just came across this Bad Astronomy post and had to share. The short explanation of the photo is that dust devils spiraling across these sand dunes have removed the red dust but left behind dark sand in artistic swirls. For a more detailed description, check out Bad Astronomy, and to take a closer look at the image itself, head on over to the HiRISE site.


Surreal-looking HiRISE Picture of the Day

June 25, 2009


I don’t have time to write a full post since I am busy trying to get a presentable outline of my PhD thesis prepared to show to my committee next week. So in the mean time, enjoy this beautiful and bizarre HiRISE image of defrosting terrain on Mars. Click the image or this link to go to the HiRISE page and see the full version.

Rover Cake!

January 30, 2009

Baker Chris Vasilakis stands next to her amazing MER cake at the Adler Planetarium.

Today the rover team got an email from Michelle Nichols at the Adler Planetarium showing off the awesome cake that they had for their celebration of the rovers’ 5th anniversary on Mars. It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t believe they ate such a masterpiece! Here’s the description of the cake from the email:

The body of the rover and the high gain antenna were all made of toffee buttercrunch cake with cinnamon buttercream between the layers.  The wheels and a few other parts were made of rice krispie treats.  Note the fondant birthday candles at the front in the instrument arm.  The red stuff at the bottom is all edible homemade mars…shmallow.

Mars in 3D

December 11, 2008


Apparently the folks on the HiRISE team decided that spectacular images weren’t enough. They have now released hundreds of 3D HiRISE images on their website, including the one above of layered rocks and sand dunes in Arabia Terra. (you may recognize this scene from my Mars Art post a few weeks ago) Grab your 3D glasses and enjoy!

Mars Art: Rhythmic Layers

December 8, 2008

This week’s Mars Art image also happens to be the subject of an interesting new finding. A new paper in Science details the discovery of a set of layered deposits in Arabia Terra that appear to match the Martian Climate cycle. Mars’ tilt wobbles around and causes the climate to change with it. It follows the general pattern of ten smaller wobbles in between larger wobbles. The layers shown in this week’s picture follow the same pattern, with layers occuring in bunches of ten. So, not only are these layers cool-looking, they also contain some really interesting science. Check out the press release for more info, and the multimedia page for some cool videos that simulate flying over the layers.


Mars Art: Dunes in Abalos Undae

November 24, 2008

This week’s Mars Art is a HiRISE view of Dunes in Abalos Undae. Pictures of sand dunes taken by HiRISE never get old for me. There is something about the undulating, regular shapes of dunes that is fascinating and beautiful and peaceful. There is a great quote about dunes in the book “Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes” by R.A. Bagnold that goes on quite poetically about them, but unfortunately I don’t have it close at hand. Consider this an IOU. which Briony has posted below! Meanwhile, enjoy the picture, and read more about it here.


Update from Briony: Here’s an awesome Bagnold quote, hopefully the one that Ryan was referring to:

In places vast accumulations of sand weighing millions of tons move inexorably, in regular formation, over the surface of the country, growing, retaining their shape, even breeding, in a manner which, by its grotesque imitation of life, is vaguely disturbing to an imaginative mind.
~ Bagnold (1941)

Mars Art: Something Old, Something New

November 15, 2008


I love this image. It is a view from the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) showing layered rocks and dunes in the bottom of an unnamed crater in Arabia Terra, Mars. The rocks are extremely ancient sediments, laid down billions of years ago when the planet was young. One of the most impressive things to me is how nice and regular the layers are. The black dunes and the granule ripples that seem to radiate from the layered mesas are much younger. They are deposited and moved by the wind. Even still, on Mars everything happens slower and “young” is a relative term. Maybe these dunes are only millions of years old!

You can read more about this image at the MOC website, and I encourage you to check out their gallery of awesome images of layers on Mars.

For more Mars Art, check out my past entries!