Ceres’ Haulani Crater, with a diameter of 21 miles (34 km), shows evidence of landslides from its crater rim. Smooth material and a central ridge stand out on its floor. This image was made using data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft when it was in its high-altitude mapping orbit, at a distance of 915 miles (1,470 km) from Ceres.
This enhanced color view allows scientists to gain insight into materials and how they relate to surface morphology. Rays of bluish ejected material are prominent in this image, the color having been associated with young features.
I don’t care how commonplace images like these have become over the past decade…it still fascinates me to look at photos of the rocky Martian landscape. Rugged, barren and empty as it is, it’s another planet. Every hill, every rock, every sand dune has never been touched by a person, or perhaps even any living thing. Ever. But thanks to the inherent ingenuity of the human mind, we are able to see these places as if we were standing there ourselves.
These places, empty as they are, have always been in our backyard but only now is the window open for us to see them.
Soon the door will be open as well, and there will inevitably be people there. Researching, examining, exploring. It may take a while, but it will happen. But for now, I enjoy looking through the window.
There’s something about seeing these places as they are today, which is most likely exactly how they’ve been for many millions of years. Before we start really digging in.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech