The most powerful camera ever deployed to another planet has captured a stunning image of an unique springtime occurrence on Mars, which paints the red planet with dramatic light fans of dry ice that erupt from vents in its northern regions.
NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) onboard the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter captured this patterned extraterrestrial terrain in March. Water ice that has frozen into the soil at the planet’s high latitudes has shaped the surface into these polygons. The edges of these patterns, which spread like white stitches across the Martian surface during springtime, are further torn by ice converting straight from a solid to a gas, a process known as sublimation, which produces blasts of dry ice.
HiRISE’s image captures the debris from these icy blasts, as well as the dark surface particles within them, which are carried by the winds in different directions. As the particles descend, they leave these distinct fans on the ground. According to a statement released Monday by the University of Arizona, which created HiRISE, some vents produce numerous separate streaks that reflect the direction of the wind at different periods.
HiRISE originally arrived at Mars in 2006 and has captured numerous breathtaking images of the planet’s polygonal polar regions. In addition, the powerful camera captured images of other unique Martian characteristics, such as an avalanche, the planet’s “chaos” topography, and even NASA’s rovers on the surface.