Monday, May 23, 2016

Mars closeup: New Hubble image shows small details of planet

As Mars drew nearer to Earth this month, the Hubble Space Telescope took an image that reveals details as small as 20 miles across.
A press release from the Space Telescope Science Institute described the features in the image from May 12, when Mars was 50 million miles from Earth:
• The large, dark region at far right is Syrtis Major Planitia, an ancient, inactive shield volcano.
• The large oval feature to its south is the bright Hellas Planitia basin, formed about 3.5 billion years ago by an asteroid impact.
• The orange area in the center of the image is Arabia Terra, a vast upland region that is densely cratered and heavily eroded.
•; An extended blanket of clouds can be seen over the southern polar cap. The icy northern polar cap has receded to a comparatively small size because it is now late summer in the northern hemisphere. • This hemisphere of Mars contains landing sites for several NASA Mars surface robotic missions, including Viking 1 (1976), Mars Pathfinder (1997), and the still-operating Opportunity Mars rover. The landing sites of the Spirit and Curiosity Mars rovers are on the other side of the planet.
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