Bad Astronomy

Victory, Victoria!

Speaking of successful orbiters, the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took a very cool picture of the crater Victoria, where the rover Opportunity spent more than a Martian year exploring:

Oh yeah, you wanna click and embiggen that. When you do, and look to the left, you can see Opportunity’s wheel tracks in the Martian surface!

Very cool. The crater is fascinating to me. There has been extensive reshaping to it after it formed; those scallops must be where the surface gave way, causing landslides into the crater, and in fact you can see streaks in the crater wall from mass movement. The ripples in the center are sand dunes, making an almost organic web of material. And you can see boulders strewn along the crater as well.

This image is different than ones before it due to the angle; instead of looking straight down into the pit, it’s seen from about 22 degrees from vertical. This slight change is enough to give scientists insight into the crater walls and other structures. The crater is a little over 700 meters across, or a bit less than half a mile. I hope that gives you a sense of scale for what HiRISE can spot; its resolution is less than one meter.