That picture sure looks like an elephant, but in reality it is just an unusual geological structure on the surface of the red planet. The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured the image during its mission. It seems like everyone is focused on our red neighbor and there is a lot of activity currently happening, and soon to be happening on Mars. I wasn’t really aware of how large some of the rovers that we have successfully landed on Mars were until this last Saturday during Jared Head’s talk. The sizes are quite impressive.
The mid-sized rover on the left is a model of the two mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Although Spirit is no longer operational, Opportunity has been operational on Mars for 9 years. Nine years! The original mission for both the rovers was only 90 days. Considering that Mars temperatures average -55 °C (−67 °F), and there is a LOT of dust that can mess up electronics, the durability of these vehicles is amazing. Opportunity is currently parked for the winter (about −125 °C or −193 °F, way too cold for me) waiting for a nice dust devil to clean its solar panels and continue on its mission.
If you would like to find out more about everything Mars head on over to the Mars Science Labratory for lots of activities and information for kids and adults.
– Ex astris, scientia –