Can you feel the heat? NASA’s Mars Odyssey can see it! This is an image of Mars’ smaller moon Deimos, captured with Odyssey’s THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System) instrument on Feb. 15, 2018. Part of the 7-mile-wide Moon was in shadow, but the sunlit surface area reached temperatures up to 200 K (that’s still pretty cold for us, though… –100ºF / -73ºC!)
This beautiful landscape scene may be reminiscent of sandy deserts on Earth but it’s actually a valley slicing into the frozen ice of Mars’ north pole as seen by NASA’s Mars Odyssey, soon to become the longest-operating spacecraft on or around the red planet.
The image above was created from several images taken by Odyssey’s THEMIS thermal-imaging camera between December of 2002 and February of 2005. As ice retreats from the edge of the valley, winds blowing across the ice send dark-colored sand onto the valley floor where it forms rippling dunes that travel westward. The ice-layered walls of Chasma Boreale rise nearly a mile from the floor of the valley.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU