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Mysterious colors on Mars, near the landing site of Europe’s rover

Mysterious colors on Mars
Click for full image.

Cool image time! Today the science team for the high resolution camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) released a new captioned image, which I have cropped and reduced to post here to the right.

The photo was taken October 12, 2020, and shows a small very colorful area on top of an isolated hill. To quote the caption, written by Sharon Wilson:

An isolated, elongated mound (about 1 mile wide and 3.75 miles long) rises above the smooth, surrounding plains. Horizontal layers are exposed at the northern end of the mound, and its surface is characterized by a very unusual quasi-circular pattern with varying colors that likely reflect diverse mineral compositions.

…The origin of this mound is unknown, but its formation may be related to the clay-bearing rocks in the nearby Oxia Planum region.

Wider shot showing entire hill
Click for full image.

The photo is false color, combining wavelengths in red, blue, and the infrared. To the right is a section of the full image, showing the entire elongated mound. The white box marks the location of the section above. This second photo has been rotated, cropped, and reduced to post here. Its colors are different than the image above because it uses different color filters, the red, blue, and green bands, thus producing colors closer to natural light.

As the caption notes, scientists don’t know what formed this isolated mound. Nor do they yet know the full meaning of the colors, or the cause of the many strange features on this mound.

The latitude here is about 19 degrees north. The location itself on the lower edge of the transition zone between the low northern plains and the southern highlands. The yellow in the first image as well as the red in the second suggests dust and sand. You can also see sand dunes inside the nearby craters. This is likely a dry place.

Overview map

It is also near Oxia Planum, the targeted landing site of Europe’s Rosalind Franklin rover, now scheduled to launch to Mars in 2022. The overview map to the right shows the landing ellipse, with this photo’s location about 130 miles away from the center of that ellipse and marked by the white cross.

To the west are the locations where Viking 1 and Pathfinder landed, in 1976 and 1997 respectively.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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