Today's Image of Mars shows a spectacular, yet potentially dangerous feature on Mars at the North Pole. What we see here is a massive ice sheet which, at its center measures a few miles thick. The edges of the ice sheet are sharp cliffs that can sometimes drop over 800m! Scientists are extremely interested in these cliff faces because understanding how they formed helps us understand the record of climate change they hold within them!
This image truly highlights why we should continuously, thoroughly examine an area from orbit before sending manned or unmanned missions. By studying this image, and others of the area, scientists have determined that ice pieces are constantly falling from the edge, only to shatter into a million pieces at the bottom! What if we had not studied many different images of the area taken at different times and we tried to send a rover, or worse, a manned mission to Mars to study the cliff faces? People could die, or billions of dollars could be lost because we didn't take and examine more HiRISE images like the one below!
So if someday in the future you're taking a stroll on Mars, make sure to check out the HiRISE and other orbital images of the area! You wouldn't want to be walking over a cliff!
|Click to see original high resolution image from HiRISE. [See their caption]|