NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter just celebrated its tenth anniversary at the Red Planet.
MRO has been orbiting Mars since early 2006 when it began mapping the planet's surface in detail in order to identify and characterize landing sites for future missions. The workhorse instrument on-board MRO is the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. HiRISE has a resolution of 0.3 meters per pixel which allows it to resolve objects on Mars less than a meter across from an altitude of over 150 miles.
As you can imagine, HiRISE is has captured some spectacular sights, some of which NASA has compiled in a video marking the mission's first decade. Do yourself a favor and watch it full screen. And if that isn't enough awesome for you, browse the full HiRISE image archive on Flickr.
In addition to these stunning images, instruments aboard MRO have uncovered more and more about what Mars was like in the past and how it continues to evolve to this day. Findings include diverse water environments, water and carbon dioxide cycles, seasonal brine seepage. If you thought Mars was dead and boring, think again.
Here's some more geek from the week:
- This caterpillar uses its previously shed layers to build a literal skull cap.
- Stanford scientists have identified an area in the brain that causes us to sigh, and with good reason.
- Harvard researchers investigate whether stone tools helped early hominins eat more prior to the emergence of cooking.
- Engineers at Vanderbilt have used a modified cotton candy machine to spin a network of artificial capillaries. [VIDEO]
- Environmentalists use drones to systematically map atolls in the Seychelles.
- This pair of artists has designed a font based on images of buildings in the shapes of letters as seen from satellites in space.
- BB-8 visited fellow robots at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- Orson Welles hosted a documentary about NASA in 1975 and you should totally find a half hour to watch it. [VIDEO]
- These lucky passengers (and astronomers) got to see last week's solar eclipse from above the clouds thanks to Alaska Airlines. [VIDEO]
- In advance of St. Patrick's Day, I leave you with the science behind your pint of Guinness.
Keep on geeking!
@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist