HiWish program

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HiWish is a NASA program in which anyone can suggest a place for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to image.[1] [2] [3] It started in January 2010. Three thousand people signed up in the first few months of the program.[4] [5] By February 2020, 9,726 had signed up and 24,059 suggestions had been submitted for targets in each of the 30 quadrangles of Mars. A that point 10,318 images had been taken.[6] [7] The first images were released in April 2010.[8] Some of the images from HiWish were used for three talks at the 16th Annual International Mars Society Convention. Below are some of the over 4,224 images that have been released from the HiWish program as of March 2016.[9]

Landslides

Landslide

Landslides have been observed on Mars. They may be a little different since the gravity of Mars is only about one third as that of the Earth.

Hollows

Hollows

Hollows make strange, beautiful landscapes. The hollows are believed to be produced when ice leaves the ground and the remaining dust is blown away. There is much water frozen in the ground. Water is carried around the planet frozen on dust grains that fall to the ground and make up what is called “mantle.” Mantle is produced when the climate is such that there is a lot of dust and moisture in the atmosphere. During those times, water will freeze onto the dust particles. Eventually, the particles will be too heavy and fall to the surface. In addition it may snow on Mars. The mantle covers wide expanses. It has a smooth appearance. It covers the irregular, created surface of the planet.

Mud Volcanoes

Mud volcanoes

Mud volcanoes They may have come through a zone of weakness in the rock here

Mud volcanoes are very common in a place on Mars called the Mare Acidalium quadrangle. Because they bring up mud from underground, they may hold evidence of life.[10] Mud that formed the volcanoes comes from a depth underground that is deep enough to be protected from radiation. The radiation level at the surface would kill most organisms over time. Methane has been detected on Mars; methane may be produced by certain bacteria. Some scientists speculate that methane may come from mud volcanoes.[11]

Volcanic vents

Volcanic vent with lava channel

                      Volcanic vent with lava channel


Volcanic vent

                        Volcanic vent

Lava Flows

Lava flow on Olympus Mons


           Lava flow on Olympus Mons


Large areas of Mars are covered with lava flows.[12] [13] [14] [15] Large volcanoes in the Tharsis region show many overlapping lava flows. Lava flows can also move around and create what appear to be layers, especially if it behaves like water. Basalt flows are very fluid.[16]

Rootless Cones

Rootless cones

                                               Rootless cones

Rootless Cones are thought to be caused by lava flowing over ice or ground containing ice. Heat from the lava causes the ice to quickly change to steam. The resulting steam explosion produces a ring or cone. Such features are common in certain locations on the Earth. Some of the forms do not have the shape of rings or cones because maybe the lava moved too quickly; thereby not allowing a complete cone shape to form. Sometimes a wake is made as the lava moves along the surface.

Dikes

Dike


Dike Notice how straight it is. Magma moved along underground and then rose up along a fault. Afterwards, softer material eroded and left the harder dike behind.


Dikes show as mostly straight ridges. They are made when magma flows along cracks or faults in the ground. This part of the process happens under the ground. Later erosion will remove the weaker materials around the dike. What is left is a narrow wall of rock.[17] On Mars many faults are due to stretching of the crust. The mass of huge volcanoes pull at the crust until it cracks.

Troughs

Troughs

Troughs are common on Mars. They are due to the great weight of several huge volcanoes on Mars. The mass of these structures has caused the crust to stretch. That tension made the crust break into cracks called, “troughs” or “fossae.” Some of them show evidence that lava and/or water have come out of them in the past. They can be very long.[18] [19] [20]

Faults

Faults are visible in some parts of Mars. They are most noticeable in places where many layers exist. Sometimes their presence is know because they can change the direction of stream channels.

Layers and fault in Firsoff Crater


Layers and fault in Firsoff Crater


Faults in layered terrain
Faults in layered terrain

Mesas and layers

Mesa with layers


                                                     Mesa with layers


On Mars much layered terrain is visible. Layered rock is formed from separate events. For example, a layer may be formed at the bottom of a lake. Later, lava may cover that layer, thus making a new layer—one that is harder. In times erosion may remove nearly all the layers. But, sometimes remnants are left behind, especially if they are topped off by a hard cap rock. Lave flows can make cap rock. The cap rock will protect the underlying rocks from erosion. Cap rock often breaks up into large boulders. Sometimes the boulders are in the shape of cube-shaped blocks. Many, large areas of Mars have eroded in such a fashion. The remaining structures are called mesas or buttes—if they are small in area. Some mesas and buttes show layers. Mesas show the kind of material that covered a wide area. Mesas are what are left after the ground is mostly eroded.

Layers in Craters

Mesa in crater with layers


                         Layers in crater  They were protected from erosion by being in the crater.

Craters can contain mesas that show layers. It is believed that these layers are the remnants of material that once covered a wide area, but is now only in protected places like inside craters. The layers mean that different events laid down the layers. These layers are probably due to latitude dependent mantle that falls from the sky at different times. Mantle is mostly from ice-coated dust falling from the sky under certain climate conditions. Wind, acting over millions of years, will shape the material in craters into smooth mesas.

Dipping Layers

Dipping layers and brain terrain (right side of picture)


                                             Dipping layers and brain terrain (right side of picture)


A common feature on Mars is “dipping layers.” They are groups or stacks of layers that seem to be leaning against something steep like a crater wall or the wall of a mesa. It is believed that they represent material that once covered a wide area, but is now only in protected places. The layers mean that different events laid down the layers. These layers are probably due to latitude dependent mantle that falls from the sky at different times. Mantle is mostly from ice-coated dust falling from the sky under certain climate conditions. These dipping layers are often smooth from the action of the wind over millions of years.

Wide view of dipping layers against slopes
Dipping layers These may be the remains of past layers of mantle that covered the whole area.

Set of dipping layers in crater


                                          Set of dipping layers in crater

Boulders

Boulders near hollows


                                            Boulders near hollows

Large, house-sized boulders are widespread on the Red Planet. Mars has an old surface—billions of years old. In that time, erosion has broken down many hard rocks. Most of Mars is covered with hard volcanic rock. The dark volcanic rock basalt covers most of the Martian surface. When it breaks, it first forms large boulders.

Boulders and their tracks from rolling down a slope Arrows show two boulders at the end of their tracks.

Boulders and their tracks from rolling down a slope Arrows show two boulders at the end of their tracks.

Color view of boulders

                                  Boulders formed from break up of a mesa

Yardangs

Yardangs


                                               Yardangs


Yardangs develop from fine-grained material. They are shaped by the wind and show the direction of the dominant winds.[22] [23] Volcanoes supply much of this fine-grained material. Yardangs are especially widespread in what's called the "Medusae Fossae Formation." This formation is found in the Amazonis quadrangle and near the equator.[24] Because yardangs exhibit very few impact craters they are believed to be relatively young.[25] The largest single source of dust in the air on Mars comes from the Medusae Fossae Formation.[26]

Ring-Mold Craters

Ring mold craters They may contain ice.


                                       Ring mold craters  They may contain ice.


Ring-mold craters are a type of small impact crater that looks like the ring molds used in baking.[27] [28] One popular idea for their formation is an impact into ice--Ice that is covered by a layer of debris.[29] They are found in parts of Mars that contain buried ice. Laboratory experiments confirm that impacts into ice end in a "ring mold shape." Other evidence for this contention is that they are bigger than other craters in which an asteroid impacted solid rock implying that the material entered by the impact was softer than rock (as ice is). Impacts into ice warm the ice and cause it to flow into the ring mold shape. These craters are common in lobate debris aprons and lineated valley fill—both thought to have buried ice under a thin layer of rocky debris[30] [31] [32] Ring-mold craters may be an easy way for future colonists of Mars to find water ice because some may contain ice that is relatively pure. And, since it was generated during a rebound, ice may have been brought up from below the surface; hence, less digging or drilling may be required to gather ice.

Dark Slope Streaks

Some of the streaks here were affected by boulders.


                    Streaks around a mound.  Some of the streaks here were affected by boulders.
Dark slope streaks As these streaks moved down, boulders changed their appearance.


Dark slope streaks are avalanche-like features common on dust-covered slopes.[33] These streaks have never been observed on the Earth.[34] They form in relatively steep terrain, such as along cliffs and crater walls.[35] Although they appear much darker than their surroundings, the darkest streaks are only about 10% darker than their backgrounds. Streaks seem much darker because of contrast enhancement in the image processing.[36]

Streaks often start at a small point and then expand down slope.

Streaks often start at a small point and then expand down slope.

Dust Devil Tracks

Dust devil tracks can be very beautiful. They are made by giant dust devils removing bright colored dust from the Martian surface. As a result, dark underlying material is exposed.[37] Dust devils on Mars have been photographed both from the ground and from orbit. They helped scientists by blowing dust off the solar panels of two Rovers on Mars, thereby greatly extending their useful lifetime.[38] Dust devils can be 650 meters high and 50 meters across.[39] The pattern of the tracks has been shown to change every few months.[40]

Dust devil tracks near crater

Dust devil tracks in Hellas quadrangle Dark material is visible in the troughs of polygons.

Dust devil tracks in Casius quadrangle

Dunes

Colorful dunes in the Mare Tyrrhenum quadrangle[42]

Some places on Mars have many beautiful dark dunes. Rovers on the Martian surface confirmed earlier ideas that the dunes are composed of sand made from the volcanic rock basalt..[43] Dunes are often covered by a seasonal carbon dioxide frost that forms in early autumn and remains until late spring. As the frost disappears, different patterns can emerge on the dunes. Dunes can take on different colors because of slight chemical variations in the sand grains.

The presence of dunes on Mars and the observations that they do change is clear proof that there is air on Mars. However, we must remember that its atmosphere is only about 1 % as dense as the Earth's. Hence, a wind speed of a 60-mph storm on Mars would feel more like 6 mph (9.6 km/hr).[44]

Dunes
Dunes

Dunes The location is the Ismenius Lacus quadrangle

Colorful dunes in the Mare Tyrrhenum quadrangle|Dunes The location is the Ismenius Lacus quadrangle


Dunes The location is the Noachis quadrangle

Dunes The location is the Noachis quadrangle

Glaciers

Glacier moving out of a valley This is similar to glaciers on the Earth


                         Glacier moving out of a valley  This is similar to glaciers on the Earth


Glaciers have been described as “rivers of ice.” With glaciers there is a downward movement that can be noticed by examining patterns on their surface. There are large areas on Mars that contain what is thought to be ice moving under a cover of debris. Exposed ice will not last long under present climate conditions on Mars, but just a few meters of debris can preserve ice for long periods of time.[45] Researchers noticed decades ago that many forms on Mars resembled glaciers on the Earth. As scientists received pictures with greater resolution, the shapes and patterns visible on their surfaces looked like the flows visible in the Earth’s glaciers.

Lobate Debris Aprons (LDA’s)

Lobate debris aprons (LDAs), first seen by the Viking Orbiters, look like piles of rock debris below cliffs.[46] [47] They slope away from mesas and buttes. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Shallow Radar found pure ice in LDA’s around many mesas.[48] Based on this data, LDA’s are considered to be glaciers covered with a thin layer of rocks.[49][50] [51] [52] [53] [54]

Lobate Debris Aprons (LDA) around a mound

Lineated Valley Fill (LVF)

Lineated valley floor consists of many mostly parallel ridges and grooves on the floors of many channels. The ridges and grooves look like they moved around obstacles. They are believed to be ice-rich. Some glaciers on the Earth show such features.[55] Image of gullies with main parts labeled. The main parts of a Martian gully are alcove, channel, and apron. Since there are no craters on this gully, it is thought to be rather young. Picture was taken by HiRISE under HiWish program.

Wide view of Lineated Valley Fill (LVF) Lat: 38.7° N Long: 45.7°E (314.3 W)
Close view of Lineated Valley Fill (LVF)


Concentric Crater Fill (CCF)

Concentric Crater Fill Lat: 43.1° S Long: 219.8°E (140.2 W


                  Concentric Crater Fill  Located at Lat: 43.1° S Long: 219.8°E (140.2 W


Concentric crater fill is believed to be an ice-rich feature on the floors of many Martian craters. The floor of craters exhibiting CCF is almost totally covered with many parallel ridges.[56] It is common in the mid-latitudes of Mars,[57] [58] and is widely accepted as caused by glacial movement.[59] [60] The Ismenius Lacus quadrangle contains examples of concentric crater fill.


Brain Terrain

Open and closed brain terrain


 Open and closed brain terrain  The closed cell brain terrain may still hold an ice core, so they may be sources of water for future colonists.[61] 

Brain terrain is an area of maze-like ridges 3–5 meters high. A person could wander between these ridges like a rat in a maze. Some ridges may consist of an ice core, so they may be sources of water for future colonists. There are two kinds—open and closed. Brain terrain is thought to begin with cracks that get larger and larger as ice leaves the ground. When ice is exposed on Mars under its present climate conditions, ice goes directly into the air. That process of going from a solid to a gas—instead of first to a liquid—is called sublimation. With this process, the cracks get wider and wider until a complex of high and low areas remains. [62]


Ice Cap Layers

Layers in northern ice cap This photo was named picture of the day for January 21, 2019.


              Layers in northern ice cap   This photo was named picture of the day for January 21, 2019. 

The northern ice cap of layers displays many layers. These layers are visible when a valley cuts through the cap. Layers in the ice cap, as with other exposures of layers across the planet, are formed from frequent dramatic changes in the climate. These changes are the result of great changes in the rotational axis or tilt of the planet. Mars does not have a large moon to stabilize its' tilt; hence the planet has huge variations in its tilt (maybe from its present Earth-like tilt to over twice the Earth’s).


Spiders

Close view of spiders


                                              Close view of spiders


Some features have been called spiders because they can resemble spiders. The official name for spiders is "araneiforms."As the temperature goes up in the spring, pressurized carbon dioxide gas and dark dust are released from under slabs of ice.[64] [65] This process results in the appearance of dark plumes that are often blown in one direction by local winds. Besides producing plumes, dust darkens channels under the ice and forms dark shapes that resemble spiders.[66] [67] [68] [69]

Mantle

Mantle Mantle covers the surface irregularities on Mars


                           Mantle  Mantle covers the surface irregularities on Mars


Mantle on Mars appears as a smooth surface. It covers the normal irregular surface of the planet. It is often called “Latitude Dependent Mantle” because it occurs at certain distances from the equator (certain latitudes).[70] This latitude dependent mantle is believed to fall from the sky. During certain climatic conditions, moisture from the air will freeze onto dust particles. When they become too heavy, these particles fall to the ground. Snow may also fall on to the mantle. So, mantle consists of ice with dust. Since Mantle has a widespread distribution, it may be a major source of water for future colonists. Sometimes mantle displays layers because it was deposited at different times. The climate of Mars has changed many times due to a lack of a large moon. Our Earth’s moon is very massive and that helps to control the tilt of the rotational axis of our Earth. In other words, our moon keeps our planet’s tilt from changing much. Changes in the tilt of a planet will cause major changes in climate.

Mantle in a crater The mantle here has made everything look smooth on one side of the crater.


               Mantle in a crater  The mantle here has made everything look smooth on one side of the crater.

Polygons

Polygons


                                                    Polygons

Many surfaces on Mars have polygon shapes. These areas are sometimes called “polygonal patterned ground.” The polygons can be of different shapes and sizes—often very beautiful. They are believed to be caused by ice in the ground because they occur on the Earth where there is ice in the ground.

With the changing seasons, alternate cooling and warming causes the ice-cemented soil to contract and expand. With the right conditions, cracks are made into the hard frozen ground releasing the stresses caused by contraction.[71]

In the future they may help point us to supplies of ice for colonists. The locations of polygons will provide evidence for us to make detailed maps for locations of water before we send crews to live there.


Defrosting dune--white areas still contain frost


                        Defrosting dune--white areas still contain frost.  Frost is in low parts of polygons.

Scalloped Terrain

Scalloped terrain This feature is important it may point future colonists to water supplies.


                       Scalloped terrain  This feature is important it may point future colonists to water supplies.


Scalloped topography or terrain is common in the mid-latitudes of Mars, between 45° and 60° north and south. It is especially prominent in the region called “Utopia Planitia.”[72] [73] This terrain displays shallow, rimless depressions with scalloped edges--commonly referred to as "scalloped depressions" or simply "scallops". Scalloped depressions can be isolated or clustered and sometimes seem to coalesce. The usual scalloped depression displays a gentle equator-facing slope and a steeper pole-facing scarp.[74] [75] Scalloped topography may be of great importance for future colonization of Mars because radar studies reveal it is ice-rich.[76] [77] [78]

Pingos

Close view of possible pingo with scale, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program Lat: 54.7° S Long: 202.7°E (157.3 W)


     Close view of possible pingo with scale, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program  Lat: 54.7° S Long: 202.7°E (157.3 W)


For many years, Pingos were believed to be present on Mars. Since they contain pure water ice, they would be a great source of water for future colonists on Mars. One picture from HiRISE under the HiWish program was thought to be a pingo.

Gullies

Gullies with parts labeled--Alcove, Channel, Apron


                        Gullies with parts labeled--Alcove, Channel, Apron


Martian gullies are narrow channels and their associated downslope deposits. They are found on steep slopes. Most are seen on the walls of craters. Many are visible near 40 degrees north and south of the equator. Usually, each gully has an alcove at its head, a fan-shaped apron at its base, and a channel linking the two.[79] They are believed to be relatively young because they have few, if any craters. For many years, gullies were thought to be caused by recent running water. But since some are being formed today, even when the climate of Mars is too cold for running water to exist on the surface, there must be another cause. After more observations, it was shown that pieces of dry ice moving down slopes could cause them. Nevertheless, some scientists think that in the past, water may have been involved in their formation.

Gullies in Phaethontis quadrangle Ridges at the end of the gullies may be the remains of old glaciers.[80]


Gullies in Phaethontis quadrangle Ridges at the end of the gullies may be the remains of old glaciers.[81]

Craters

This is a fairly young crater as it still shows ejecta, layers, and a rim.

                      This is a fairly young crater as it still shows ejecta, layers, and a rim.

Craters cover nearly all parts of Mars. Most of the surface of Mars is over a billion years old. Because Mars has not had active plate tectonics for a very long time (if it ever had active plate tectonics), impact craters stay for a long time. There are many kinds of craters on the planet.[82] [83]

New, small crater We have detected many new craters on Mars that have impacted the planet since good cameras have orbited the planet.


 New, small crater   We have found that Mars is hit by 200 impacts/year.[84]

Hellas Floor Features

Wide view of features on floor of Hellas impact basin. The exact origin of these shapes is unknown at present.


Wide view of features on floor of Hellas impact basin. The exact origin of these shapes is unknown at present.

The Hellas floor contains strange-looking features that look like some sort of abstract art. One such feature is called "banded terrain." [85] [86] [87] This terrain has also been called "taffy pull" terrain, and it lies near honeycomb terrain, another strange surface.[88] Banded terrain is found in the north-western part of the Hellas basin, the deepest section. The bands can be classified as linear, concentric, or lobate. Bands are typically 3–15km long and 3km wide. Narrow inter-band depressions are 65 m wide and 10 m deep.[89] How these shapes were made is still a mystery, although some explanations have been advanced.

Features on floor of Hellas impact basin.


Close view of center of a Hellas floor feature

Close view of center of a Hellas floor feature


Oxbow lakes and meanders

An oxbow lake is a U-shaped lake that forms when a wide meander of a river is a cut off that makes a lake. This landform is so named for its distinctive curved shape, which resembles the bow pin of an oxbow.[90] Finding them on Mars means that water probably flowed for a long time.

Channel showing an old oxbow and a cutoff, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program

                              Channel showing an old oxbow and a cutoff

Channel, with meanders These meanders may have meandered a little more and then made oxbow lakes. Arrow points to a crater that was probably eroded by flowing water. Channel, with meanders These meanders may have meandered a little more and then made oxbow lakes. Arrow points to a crater that was probably eroded by flowing water.


Meanders Meanders are commonly formed in old river systems when the water is moving slowly.

               Meanders   They are formed in old river systems when the water is moving slowly.


Channel Arrows indicate evidence of a meander.


                                 Channel   Arrows indicate evidence of a meander.

Channels

Old river channel with branches


                              Old river channel with branches and meanders

There are thousands of channels that were caused by running water in the past on Mars. Some are large; some are tiny.[91] [92] [93] [94] [95] These channels have been seen in pictures from spacecraft for nearly 50 years. Current climate models do not support a warm climate on Mars; consequently, various ideas have been advanced to explain the existence of so many channels when it may have always been too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface. Some say they could be formed under ice sheets. Other scientists maintain that they could be produced in short periods after an asteroid impact warms the planet for thousands of years.

Streamlined Shapes

Streamlined shapes made by running water


Streamlined shapes made by running water


Some locations on Mars show clear evidence of massive flows of water in the past. During these floods, the ground was carved into streamlined shapes. There are several ideas for how all this happened. It may have resulted from asteroid impacts into frozen ground. Under a cap of frozen ground there may have been vast buildups of water that were suddenly released.


Streamlined forms in wide channel These forms were shaped by running water.


Streamlined forms in wide channel These forms were shaped by running water.

Inverted Terrain

Possible inverted streams, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program

Often low areas can become high areas. This frequently happens with streams. An old stream channel may become filled with a hard, erosion resistant material like lava or large boulders. Later, erosion of the whole area may remove all the surrounding soft materials. But, the stream channel will be preserved because of the hard materials that were deposited in it. In the end, you are left with a feature which is elevated above the landscape, but has the shape of the original stream. Geologists will then call the stream “inverted.”

Inverted Stream channel It was once a stream, now it is a curved ridge.

Exhumed Craters

Exhumed crater This crater was covered over and now it is being uncovered or "exhumed."


Exhumed crater This crater was covered over and now it is being uncovered or "exhumed."

Exhumed terrain appears to be in the process of being uncovered.[96] [97] The surface of Mars is very old. Places have been covered, uncovered, and covered again by sediments. The pictures below show a crater that is being exposed by erosion. When a crater forms, it will destroy what's under and around it. In the example below, only part of the crater is visible. Had the crater been created after the layered feature, it would have removed part of the feature and we would see the entire crater.


This crater had been buried and now is being uncovered by erosion. Had it just been formed, it would have destroyed part of the layered formation that is on top of its right side (just to the left of the crater).
The small crater that sits in layers is being exhumed. If it had been made after the layers that it is sitting in, it would have destroyed some of the layered material.

Pedestal Craters

Pedestal crater The surface was protected from erosion by the ejecta. In the past all the surrounding ground was at the level of the pedestal. Most of the loss is thought to be from the loss of ice."


Pedestal crater The surface was protected from erosion by the ejecta. In the past all the surrounding ground was at the level of the pedestal. Most of the loss is thought to be from the loss of ice.


A Pedestal crater is a crater with its ejecta sitting above the surrounding terrain. Its ejecta form a raised platform (like a pedestal).[98] They are produced when an impact ejects material that forms an erosion-resistant layer. Consequently, the immediate area erodes more slowly than the rest of the region. Some pedestals are hundreds of meters above the surroundings. This means that hundreds of meters of material were eroded away. What remains is a crater and its ejecta blanket sitting above the surrounding ground. [99] [100] [101]

Ridges

Close view of ridges We are sure how these were formed, but we have come up with a few possibilities.


Close view of ridges We are sure how these were formed, but we have come up with a few possibilities.

Ridge fields are another feature that we do not yet fully understand.[102] [103] Hard ridges standing above the surroundings often meet at close to right angles. They may have something to do with cracks caused by impacts. Mineral laden water may then migrate up the cracks and harden. These fields can be quite complex and beautiful.


Ridge network in Amazonis quadrangle

Ridge network in Amazonis quadrangle

Layers

Layers in Dannielson Crater, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program

Layers of rocks and other materials are very common on Mars.[104] They are found in many low places like craters.[105] The widespread occurrence of layering on the Red Planet has great significance. On Earth, much layering originates in bodies of water.[106] If this is true, at least to some extent on Mars, then traces of past life might be found in layered formations. Indeed, much evidence has been gathered for the existence of lakes in craters and some canyons. Whether layers were created under water or through ground water, water is still being debated. Probably ground water is at least partial responsible for many of the layers we observe on the planet. The existence of water in the ground is important for life on Mars. Most of the organic mass on the Earth is found under the surface. Likewise, Mars may have a great deal of life living under the surface. [107] [108] Many microbes live deep underground.[109] [110] [111] Life under the Martian surface might find it easier since it would be protected from high levels of radiation.[112] One recent study found that radiation from certain elements in the crust of Mars could have reacted with water in the ground to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen can supply chemical energy for life.[113] [114]


Close view of layers, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program Location is Danielson Crater.

Ribbed terrain

Ribbed terrain consists of mostly elongated canyon-like forms. Some portions turn into mesas. It is created when small cracks become larger and larger. A crack in the surface of an ice-rich area will permit more of the ice to go into the thin Martian air because of increased surface area. This process of going directly form a solid to a gas phase is called sublimation. On Earth it is easily observed in the behavior of dry ice (solid carbon dioxide).

Ribbed terrain begins with cracks that eventually widen to produce hollows

                               Ribbed terrain begins with cracks that eventually widen to produce hollows
Wide view of ribbed terrain.


Wide view of ribbed terrain.

                             Wide view of ribbed terrain.
Close, color view of ribbed terrain.

Blocks and boulders forming

Some places on Mars show rocks breaking into boulders or cube-shaped blocks.

Crossing joints, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program


                             Crossing joints, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program
Rocks forming


Blocks forming
Surface breaking up into cube-shaped blocks
Layers breaking up into boulders in Galle Crater, as seen by HiRISE under HiWish program

Fractures forming large blocks Box shows size of a football field


                           Fractures forming large blocks  Box shows size of a football field

Volcanoes under ice

Large group of concentric cracks Location is Ismenius Lacus quadrangle. Cracks were formed by a volcano under ice.

Large group of concentric cracks Location is Ismenius Lacus quadrangle. Cracks were formed by a volcano under ice.

Researchers believe they have found evidence that volcanoes erupt under ice on Mars. Such eruptions have been observed on the Earth. What seems to happen is that ice melts, the water escapes, and then the surface cracks and collapses. The resulting formation shows concentric fractures and large pieces of ground that seemed to have been pulled apart.[115] Sites like this may have recently had held liquid water; therefore, they may be good places to search for evidence of life.[116][117]

Close view of fractures from volcano under ice.
Close view of fractures from volcano under ice.

Recurrent slope lineae

Recurrent slope lineae are small, narrow, dark streaks on slopes that get longer in warm seasons. They may be evidence of liquid water.[118] [119] [120] Evidence is still being gathered on this feature.

Recurrent slope lineae (RSL) They form in warm seasons.


                             Recurrent slope lineae (RSL)  They form in warm seasons.

Notes about pictures

Most pictures from spacecraft are enhanced. The surface of Mars shows little contrast. Consequently, in order to see more detail, contrast is enhanced by a process known as stretching. In that process the darkest parts are set to black while the lightest parts are set to be white. This process makes a huge difference for some features like dark slope streaks. The colors for HiRISE images are different than the human eye would see. HiRISE only sees in only 3 colors and sometimes infrared is used rather than red. Displaying colors in this way allows us to better identify rocks and minerals. HiRISE images are about 5 km wide, but only have a 1 km wide band in the center that is in color.[121]

How to suggest image

To suggest a location for HiRISE to image visit the site at http://www.uahirise.org/hiwish

In the sign up process you will need to come up with an ID and a password. When you choose a target to be imaged, you have to pick and exact location on a map and write about why the image should be taken. If your suggestion is accepted, it may take 3 months or more to see your image. You will be sent an email telling you about your images. The emails usually arrive on the first Wednesday of the month in the late afternoon.

Notes to teachers

This article goes along with the video Features of Mars with HiRISE under HiWish program at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7q1Xyz_LBc

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External links

See Also

Recommended reading

  • Grotzinger, J., R. Milliken (eds.). 2012. Sedimentary Geology of Mars. Tulsa: Society for Sedimentary Geology.
  • Kieffer, H., et al. (eds) 1992. Mars. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson
  • history.nasa.gov/SP-4212/ch11
  • Lorenz, R. 2014. The Dune Whisperers. The Planetary Report: 34, 1, 8-14
  • Lorenz, R., J. Zimbelman. 2014. Dune Worlds: How Windblown Sand Shapes Planetary Landscapes. Springer Praxis Books / Geophysical Sciences.