Planetary Picture of the Day
Week of September 25, 2023
Planetary tour: Mars, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Monday, September 25, 2023
The "Face on Mars"
This image of an unnamed mesa on Mars was taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera onboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft on 8 April 2001, from a distance of 450 km. The image has a resolution of about 2 meters/pixel.
If this picture vaguely reminds you of something, that's because this was the mesa that originally sent the so-called "face on Mars" to the archives of pareidolia. Erosion does this all the time on Earth. The Sidobre region in France is full of rocks invoking some kind of mythical being or animal; there's also Elephant Rock in Iceland, and those are only a few examples.
Although the "Face on Mars" is the result of such a process, it was an entertaining debate while we were still relying on the old Viking mission resolution. On the other hand, looking at what is the real geological history of this mesa has taught us a lot about the past climate of the red planet, and that is knowledge that we can build on.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
The Juno mission's JunoCam has taken some lovely images in seven years at the gas giant, including this one of Jupiter's "eye" captured early on during Perijove 09. The key to these amazing pictures, however, is in the citizen scientists who process them. Learn more: https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Saturn and Mimas
The small icy moon Mimas, floating in space above the giant planet Saturn, crossed by shadows of its vast ring system. The image is PIA06176, taken by the Cassini spacecraft on 18 January 2005; at the time, the spacecraft was 1.4 million km from Saturn. The scene is in approximately true color.
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Olympus Mons, the largest known volcano in the Solar System, as captured by ESA's Mars Express spacecraft. The volcano is about 620 km across and 21 km tall. The textured landscape at the bottom is made up of giant landslide deposits.