1 of 3Image
First color picture of Mars
This is the first color image of Mars from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, taken during a turn round the planet on March 24.
The HiRISE camera detects infrared radiation, which has a longer wavelength than visible light and so is not visible to the naked eye. The data has been converted to produce this image. It was generated by combining data from green and near-infrared color bandpass detectors on the camera with black-and-white images (from red-bandpass detectors). The image also has been processed to enhance subtle color variations.
The southern half of the scene is brighter and bluer than the northern half, perhaps due to early-morning fog in the atmosphere, NASA said. Large-scale streaks in the northern half are the result of wind on surface materials. The blankets of material ejected from the many small fresh craters are generally brighter and redder than the surrounding surface, but a few are darker and less red. In the bottom half of the image is a redder color in the rough areas, where wind and sublimation of water or carbon dioxide ice have partially eroded patches of smooth-textured deposits.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology and is operated by the University of Arizona.