Mars Express Seeks Evidence of Watery History on Mars

Mars Express view of Amenthes PlanumNASA is, obviously, not the only space agency in the world. Nor are they the only agency doing really cool work at Mars. The European Space Agency is currently operating the Mars Express, in orbit around the Red Planet, and the produce of that mission is absolutely astounding.

The latest update from the Mars Express team focuses on Amenthes Planum:

ESA’s Mars Express took a high-resolution stereo image on 13 January of the southeast corner of the Amenthes Planum region on Mars, near to Palos crater and the mouth of a well-known sinuous valley, Tinto Vallis.

At the bottom-centre of the full-colour image … is a nearby shorter and wider valley, which is fed by a number of tributaries before it joins the mouth of Tinto Vallis as both empty into Palos crater, just off the bottom of the image.

The 190 km-long Tinto Vallis is seen in the context image and is named after the famous Rio Tinto river in the Andalucía region of Spain. It is believed to have formed around 3.7 billion years ago, during the early history of Mars.

The network of shorter valleys shown in the first perspective image is thought to have formed through volcanic activity melting subsurface ice and liberating water to the martian surface via seeps and springs.

Continue reading

Linkadelica

Axial view of the brain, via HCPJust some reading to expand your mind within the fixed boundaries of your brain:

That’s No Moon, It’s … Oh, Wait, It’s a Moon

PIA 12570 — Mimas, the Death Star MoonSo the Death Star joke has been done to death, and Cassini’s 2010 photo of Mimas has become pretty much the standard picture for the second smallest of the planemo (planetary-mass object) moons around Saturn, which has enough moons that astronomers haven’t finished naming them all.

JPL explains the famous Death Star picture:

Herschel Crater is 130 kilometers, or 80 miles, wide and covers most of the right of this image. Scientists continue to study this impact basin and its surrounding terrain (see PIA12569 and PIA12571).

Cassini came within about 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles) of Mimas on Feb. 13, 2010.This mosaic was created from six images taken that day in visible light with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera on Feb. 13, 2010. The images were re-projected into an orthographic map projection. This view looks toward the area between the region that leads on Mimas’ orbit around Saturn and the region of the moon facing away from Saturn. Mimas is 396 kilometers (246 miles) across. This view is centered on terrain at 11 degrees south latitude, 158 degrees west longitude. North is up. This view was obtained at a distance of approximately 50,000 kilometers (31,000 miles) from Mimas and at a sun-Mimas-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 17 degrees. Image scale is 240 meters (790 feet) per pixel.

Continue reading