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An avalanche on Mars, as it happens

Avalanche on Mars

Cool image time! In their routine monitoring for avalanches at the layered deposits at the Martian north pole, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter science team captured the avalanche on the right, as it happened.

This picture managed to capture a small avalanche in progress, right in the color strip. … The small white cloud in front of the brick red cliff is likely carbon dioxide frost dislodged from the layers above, caught in the act of cascading down the cliff. It is larger than it looks, more than 20 meters across, and (based on previous examples) it will likely kick up clouds of dust when it hits the ground.

They note that avalanches in this area of Mars are common in the spring when things are warming, and have been documented previously, but possibly not so dramatically.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

4 comments

  • danae

    The resolution of the image is fantastic. Is that a pool of liquid at the base of the rock formation? It appears to be reflecting the image of the frost crystals.

  • Gealon

    In the wider image it looks like that seemingly reflective area is in fact just a lower elevation on which the CO2 frost/snow has fallen. The position of the apparent reflection is as far as I can tell just a coincidence and looks to just be a variation in the color of the fallen frost/snow. I too thought it was a reflection it first though, hence why I went to the larger image.

    It’s still a nice shot though.

  • danae

    Yes, looking at the wider image, I’m sure you’re right. There must be a lower rock ledge catching the falling frost. Thank you for pointing that out. These Orbiter images are fascinating, and so detailed, it’s still slightly startling to realize we’re looking at the surface of Mars.

  • Edward

    Danae wrote: “it’s still slightly startling to realize we’re looking at the surface of Mars.”

    If only Giovanni Schiaparelli or Percival Lowell could have lived long enough to see the pictures that we get to see!

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