The high-resolution camera operated by the University of Arizona has captured another striking image from its Mars orbit. A high-powered camera operated by the University of Arizona has captured a striking image of what the Earth and moon look like from Mars.
NASA recently released images from the UA’s HiRISE camera that were taken a few days before Thanksgiving. Two exposures, taken about 127 million miles away from Earth, were pieced together into a composite image so the moon would be bright enough to see, according to a blog post by Alfred McEwen, a UA professor and the camera’s lead scientist.
Australia is the red blob in the middle of Earth. The white blob at bottom left is Antarctica. The other white swirls are clouds. HiRISE, short for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, is billed as the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet. The technology is aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a bus-size spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet since 2006.
Re-writing the Red Planet’s history
The camera has played a big role in recent discoveries. It helped locate safe landing spots for spacecraft like the Phoenix Mars Lander and photographing evidence of water.
And in 2008, when the Phoenix Mars Lander parachuted toward Mars, HiRISE captured the moment, the first image ever taken of a spacecraft descending through the atmosphere of another planet.
Scientists had only one shot at that picture because of the speed at which the spacecraft moved through the atmosphere. They timed the camera to take the photo based on the craft’s planned descent.
“The math worked,” McEwen said at the time.
In 2011, the camera obtained images of what scientists suspected could be water flowing seasonally on Mars. Dark streaks appeared and disappeared on the planet’s surface, depending on the Martian season. All signs pointed to the presence of liquid water.
After more research, NASA announced in 2015 what had long been suspected: evidence that saltwater still flows on the Red Planet. The key discovery re-wrote the history of a planet that was long thought to be only a desert. The finding suggests it would be possible for there to be life on Mars today. Source: azcentral