science and nature

Mars rock layers swirl in gorgeous crater photo

Mars rock layers swirl in gorgeous crater photo

A southern portion of Mars' Holden Crater, as imaged by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

A southern portion of Mars’ Holden Crater, as imaged by the HiRISE digicam on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

(Picture: © NASA/JPL-Caltech/College of Arizona)

A sliver of Martian geological historical past takes middle stage in a putting photograph of a Crimson Planet crater.

The picture, captured by the Excessive Decision Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) digicam aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), reveals dramatically swirling layers of rock within the 87-mile-wide (140 kilometers) Holden Crater.

“A lot of Mars is roofed by sand and mud, however in some locations stacks of sedimentary layers are seen,” NASA officers wrote Monday (June 8) in a description of the photo

“On this picture, beautiful layering is revealed rising from the sand in southern Holden Crater,” they added. “Sequences like these provide a window into Mars’ sophisticated geologic historical past.”

That historical past features a stretch way back when the planet’s floor was probably able to supporting Earth-like life. As work by robotic explorers corresponding to MRO and NASA’s Curiosity rover has proven, historical Mars sported rivers, lakes and, some scientists imagine, an enormous ocean that lined a lot of the planet’s northern hemisphere.

The whole lot modified about four billion years in the past, when Mars misplaced its international magnetic area. The planet’s once-thick ambiance was then exposed to stripping by the charged particles of the photo voltaic wind, and Mars was remodeled into the chilly, dry world we all know at the moment. 

Holden Crater was as soon as a possible touchdown web site for Curiosity, by the best way. However NASA finally chosen the 96-mile-wide (154 km) Gale Crater for the six-wheeled robotic’s rovings.

Holden Crater lies about 26 levels south of the Martian equator, whereas Gale Crater is at simply 5 levels south.

Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e-book in regards to the seek for alien life. Comply with him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

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