Daily Telescope: See carbon dioxide sublimating on Mars

A field of sand dunes in the Martian springtime.

A field of sand dunes in the Martian springtime.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It’s May 29, and today’s photo comes from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is, you guessed it, in orbit around Mars.

The image shows an area of sand dunes on Mars in the springtime, when carbon dioxide frost is sublimating into the air. According to NASA, the pattern of dark spots is due to the fact that the sublimation process is not uniform.

Captured by the HiRISE camera on board the spacecraft, this image has been color-enhanced to draw out some of these features. The image scale is 50 cm per pixel.

This orbiter is a pretty amazing little spacecraft, as it’s been flying around Mars since March 2006 and operating for nearly two decades. NASA is looking into commercial options for a replacement, as the spacecraft performs both essential observation functions and serves as a communications relay.

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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