TECH
25/09/2013 09:46 BST

Surface Of Mars Photo Shows The Red Planet Is Sometimes Not Very Red At All

This - believe it or not - is the Red Planet.

The newly released photo of the surface of Mars blows holes in the usual view of a barren, muddy-brown landscape.

Taken by Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the image shows the colourful area of the Noctis Labyrinthus region.

mars

The surprisingly colourful surface of Mars

Two distinct types of windblown sediment can be seen.

The first are the pale ripples known as “transverse aeolian ridges” (TARs). These are still poorly understood, and are variously ascribed to dunes produced by reversing winds, coarse grained ripples, or indurated dust deposits.

These appear to be stable over time suggesting they form very slowly or formed in past atmospheric conditions very different to those of the today.

The second type of sediment are the dark cloud-like formations.

These dark dunes are made up of grains composed of iron-rich minerals derived from volcanic rocks on Mars, unlike the pale quartz-rich dunes typical of Earth.

Unlike the TARs they appear to still be active and appear to be younger.

The original image was acquired on Aug. 31, 2013, by the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) instrument.