• Adam Smith Institute

    Adam Smith Institute place holder
  • Philosophy & Logic

    Philosophy and Logic
  • Cambridge

    Cambridge
  • Children’s SF

    Children's Science Fiction
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 418 other followers

Getting to know Mars

cratereddunes

When I turned the first telescopes of my boyhood towards Mars, all I could see was a blurry red disc with indistinct dark patches. Even the best pictures of the day taken with the 200 inch mirror at Mount Palomar showed only polar caps and vague markings. We imagined they might be vegetation, but disappointment came in 1965 when Mariner 4 sent back photos of a cratered, lunar-like surface. More recently the Mars rovers and orbiters have shown an alien, changing world.

marscanyon

Wired, which publishes a ‘Science Photo of the Day,’ has passed on a NASA high resolution picture of cratered dunes (top) with Aeolian sandstone lying over a previously-eroded surface of layered sedimentary rock. The bottom picture shows “an isolated flat-topped mountain (known as a mesa) rising out of a sea of dunes located in the center of Hydrae Chasma.” We are told that “some of the detail may be the sediment remnants of ancient lakes formed within these canyon systems.” I find the detail of these images enthralling. We have come a long way since my first backyard telescope.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: