Hubble Delivers Most Detailed Pictures Of Mars
- Source: News release by the Space Telescope Science Institute,
A Closer Encounter With Mars
Taking advantage of Mars's closest approach to Earth in eight years,
astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have taken the space-based
observatory's sharpest views yet of the Red Planet. NASA is releasing these
images to commemorate the second anniversary of the Mars Pathfinder landing.
The telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 snapped these images
between April 27 and May 6, when Mars was 54 million miles (87 million
kilometers) from Earth. From this distance the telescope could see Martian
features as small as 12 miles (19 kilometers) wide. The telescope obtained
four images, which, together, show the entire planet. Each view depicts the
planet as it completes one quarter of its daily rotation.
These Hubble telescope snapshots reveal that substantial changes in the
bright and dark markings on Mars have occurred in the 20 years since the
NASA Viking spacecraft missions first mapped the planet. These images show
that the Martian surface is dynamic and ever changing. Some regions that
were dark 20 years ago are now bright red; some areas that were bright red
are now dark. Winds move sand and dust from region to region, often in
spectacular dust storms. Over long timescales many of the larger bright and
dark markings remain stable, but smaller details come and go as they are
covered and then uncovered by sand and dust.
See the full caption for more information.
Photo credits: Steve Lee (University of Colorado), Jim Bell (Cornell
University), Mike Wolff (Space Science Institute), and NASA
Other researchers involved in the collection and analysis of these Hubble
telescope data are R. Todd Clancy (Space Science Institute), Philip James
(University of Toledo), and Michael Ravine (Malin Space Science Systems,
The Space Telescope Science Institute is operated by the Association of
Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), for NASA, under
contract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. The Hubble
Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and
the European Space Agency (ESA).
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