August 17, 2018
While a global Dust Storm still covers most of the Red Planet's surface, NASA is having a little fun while collecting data and making images of its polar region.
The U.S. Space agency's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment shared a series of images from about 150 miles above the planet's surface that "offers up a nice dose of pareidolia." If you look closely at the photo embedded below, it's clear that Beaker from "The Muppets" was the first person to colonize Mars:
And now for the one that's admittedly a little harder to unsee:
NASA's HiRISE is based out of the University of Arizona in Tuscon, and is said to be a camera that works in visible wavelengths "the same as human eyes." The camera telescopic lens is said to produce images at resolutions "never before seen in planetary exploration missions."
"These high-resolution images enable scientists to distinguish 1-meter-size objects on Mars and to study the morphology in a much more comprehensive manner than ever before," NASA explains. "HiRISE also makes observations at near-infrared wavelengths to obtain information on the mineral groups present. From an altitude that varies from 200 to 400 kilometers above Mars, HiRISE acquires surface images containing individual, basketball-size pixel elements, allowing surface features 4 to 8 feet across to be resolved.
"These new, high-resolution images are providing unprecedented views of layered materials, gullies, channels, and other science targets, in addition to characterizing possible future landing sites."
The HiRISE launched with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter back on Aug. 12, 2005, and arrived to the Red Planet back in March of 2006.
NASA's HiRISE continues to work as Mars remains covered in a near-global dust storm that has been raging on for the better part of two months.
The Martian dust storm itself has started to fade in the last two weeks, but it has still rendered the space agency's Opportunity Rover into a state of unconsciousness.
As for these massive Martian dust storms, NASA says they "are not surprising, but are infrequent" and can last not only weeks but "even months." The space agency, as always, is treating the global dust storm on Mars as a learning opportunity as it says it will study why these dust storms like this one last for as long as they do "while others stay small and last only a week."
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