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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Mars From a Height

By Phil Plait

I post a lot of news and pictures of Mars, and when I do it’s usually something taken by a rover on the surface, or it’s a high-resolution image of a small region taken from orbit.

I love these images, and they give us a sense of the kind of detail going on at the surface of Mars. But it can be easy to forget that Mars is actually a world, a huge place with sweeping vistas.

I was reminded of this when I did my usually daily check-in with my friend Emily Lakdawalla’s blog at the Planetary Society. She posted a handful of simply spectacular images of the red planet that were taken by the European Mars Express mission, and processed by Justin Cowart.

The image above shows the Tharsis Shield of Mars, a tremendous bulge in the side of the planet with four volcanoes popping out of it, including the famous Olympus Mons, the largest mountain/volcano in the solar system. I love the overview we get here, including the blue edge of the planet caused by its thin atmosphere.

Cowart’s Flickr page (and his Twitter stream) is a marvel of astronomical imagery, shots from around the solar system, including Saturn and its moons, the comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and more. It’s well worth your time to take a look. There’s nothing wrong with a reminder of how gorgeous our local neighborhood in the Universe is.

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