These photos are out of this world

The photo above reminds me of an undersea scene with sponges or coral or something. But it isn’t. It’s the surface of Mars, photographed from the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft using its HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera. The false coloring is introduced by scientists to help highlight features they are studying. The photo of sand dunes in the Noachis Terra of Mars spans an area slightly less than half a mile across.

The first photo below is also of Martian sand dunes. It reminds me of an amoeba under a microscope.

These spectacular photos and 32 more of the Martian surface are featured on Business Insider in “Epically awesome photos of Mars.” Don’t miss them. In one you can see the platform for NASA’s Spirit Mars rover. In another (bottom), you can see the rover Curiosity (bright spot) and the tracks it left (across lower third of photo) as it drove away from its landing site (blue spots surrounded by blast marks).

The photos were selected from among the collections on the NASA/JPL website. For NASA’s details on these three, click on their respective credit lines.

20 thoughts on “These photos are out of this world

    1. I have to look at those top two really hard to “see” sand dunes instead of … something else. With no reference points for scale, and the artificial color, it’s really hard.

      1. I was going to say that those two remind me of fractal art, but then it occurred to me that it’s fractal math as it reflects back from nature that makes them look that way! 😀

          1. As my mom used to say PT, “Don’t start me to lyin!” 😀

            All I know is that fractals are based on these thing called “Mandelbrot sets,” which “describe” the way the look of large natural structures tends to be repeated in it’s smaller parts – e.g.: rivers, streams, and creeks, or trees, branches, and twigs, or arteries, veins, and capillaries…

    1. Abstract, yes. Paris? Hmm … (But then, I’ve had my coffee. Of course now the first one looks like the knuckles of a scaly alien hand with the fingers pointing to the upper left. Maybe too much coffee?)

  1. I worked for the government, and every year our agency came up with a list of all the “wonderful” things we did with our budget from the previous year. From this experience I know that much of what government agencies tout as their accomplishments in these “lists” is poppycock. My husband worked on government contracts associated with the Dept. of Defense and NASA, and I know from discussions with him that much of the national defense budget is buried in other agencies, such as Dept of Energy and NASA. David’s niece and her husband are engineers associated with NASA, so you can imagine the family discussions we’ve had over the years.

    We learn much from the wars we’ve engaged in also, (such as WWII, and the search for ways to address VD which led to penicillin). But I don’t think we need war to invent something.

    Most of the money federal agencies receive is not spent in ways that address social program needs, and with our national debt soaring and so many social issues, we don’t need to waste money exploring Mars. The frontier mentality is bad for the country. There is no frontier anymore.

    I didn’t think we needed to go to the moon either. Much of what was “discovered could be known without a single human footprint in space.

    1. I wouldn’t argue for a minute that government money is properly spent and/or accounted for. And I mentioned the benefits of past space exploration as an interesting side effect, not the reason for space exploration. But not exploring space? Would you have advised early Europeans not to cross the seas? Or American colonists not to explore unknown lands to the west? And at the rate the world population is exploding, we may very well need to expand to another planet or two in the future. If you object to NASA and the government doing the exploring, there’s always private enterprise (SpaceX, etc.). Humans are curious; humans will explore unknown lands, wherever they are.

  2. If someone other than the Feds want to finance space exploration, that’s fine. As for earlier exploration, much of it was financed by companies. Yes these companies often received cash infusions from governments, but many of those governments collapsed from these expenditures.

    I am a retired demographer and can tell you that nothing we do by way of space exploration will solve overpopulation. Nothing but birth control, and that doesn’t seem to work unless men are motivated to give women freedom to use it, and couples limit childbirth to two kids.

    Thus, the single biggest problem on earth is the status of women. Given some of the evildoes in the Musim world who are ready to send the west back into the Dark Ages, I think we have a long way to go.

    1. Oh, I don’t think space exploration will solve overpopulation, but overpopulation may someday necessitate migration to other worlds.

      Only education will solve overpopulation. I think education can solve all of earth’s problems. Educate people and they learn for themselves what needs to be done and how to do it.

... and that's my two cents