Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Mars

Things are going to be a bit quiet around here while I thrash towards the end of the first draft. So here's a couple of cool videos as place markers. Both were created by Adrian Lark, and are flyover animations reconstructed from HiRise data, with an amazing resolution of 0.25 metres - around the size of an A4 sheet of paper. The first loops around part of the scarp at the base of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano on Mars - and the largest found so far in the Solar System.

The second floats around the edge the raised mound (a mountain some five kilometres high) in the centre of Gale Crater - note the tremendously varied terrain. Gale crater is one of the possible landing sites for the Mars Science Laboratory, a large, robust rover scheduled for launch in 2011. One of its main mission goals is to determine if microbial life ever existed on the surface of Mars; Gale Crater is a prime target for this search because its mound contains clay-bearing layers at its base, with layers of oxygen- and sulphur-rich minerals above, and flowing water seems to have carved channels across the floor of the crater and into its wall.

(By the way, neither of these animations comes with a soundtrack. What would you choose?)
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