Hubble Space Telescope views Mars

Hubble Space Telescope views Mars

. This perspective of Mars was obtained from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) on 10 March 1997 the last day of spring in the Martian northern hemisphere. The red planet was near its closest approach to Earth and a single picture element of the HST spanned 22 kilometers on the Martian surface. The image shows bright and dark markings observed by astronomers for more than a century. The large dark feature seen just below the center of the disk is Syrtis Major Planitia, first seen telescopically by Christiaan Huygens in the 17th century. To the south of Syrtis Major is the large circular impact basin Hellas (center bottom) filled with surface frost and shrouded in bright clouds of water ice. The seasonal north polar cap (top center) is rapidly sublimating, or evaporating from solid dry ice to carbon dioxide gas, revealing the smaller residual water ice cap with its collar of dark sand dunes. (Courtesy of David Crisp, NASA, JPL and the Space Telescope Science Institute.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University