Click for original image
In 2007, shortly after it began science operations in Mars orbit, the science team for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) pointed its high resolution camera at the so-called “Face on Mars”, taking a picture that confirmed (as had Mars Global Surveyor several years earlier) that this “face” was a non-face, simply a mesa whose features made it appear roughly facelike in low resolution imagery.
Now, more than sixteen years later, scientists have used MRO to take a new picture of the non-face mesa. That picture is to the right, cropped, reduced, and sharpened to post here. Compared to the 2007 photo the new photo has far better lighting conditions, revealing many details on the mesa’s eastern half that were mostly obscured by shadows previously.
In fact, these new details strongly suggest that the depression on the mesa’s eastern slopes harbors a decaying glacier. At least, that is what the features there resemble.
This conclusion is not unreasonable, considering the non-face’s location as shown on the overview map to the right. Though it is far to the west from the region I label glacier country, it is in the same mid-latitudes. The northern lowland plains in this area have many near-surface ice features. For example, in the picture above it appears that an ice sheet abuts the base of this mesa on both its northeast and northwest sides.
Scientists probably decided to take a second picture of this mesa to see if anything had changed in the subsequent sixteen years. Though it appears nothing has changed, based on the resolution of the picture above, a much more detailed look will be required to confirm that conclusion. The new observations actually included two pictures, the one above taken on November 4, 2023, and a second taken on October 1, 2023. Using both together scientists will be able to create a 3-dimensional stereoscopic view, which will further help them find any changes from the 2007 image.
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