Landscapes of Mars

New satellite images may answer our questions about the Red Planet. Could humans one day live here?

The HiRISE has uncovered a wealth of information in a canyon bank at Chasma Boreale at Mars's north pole. Here, the canyon has eroded to reveal layers of minerals and other materials. The layers are rich in water ice, while the dark material toward the bottom is most likely sand dunes. These layers are helping scientists decode Mars's recent climate variations. NASA, HiRISE/JPL/University of Arizona

These detailed views of the red planet were transmitted to Earth by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). After a 72-million-mile trek through space, the craft reached Mars in March 2006, delivering some of the most advanced technology ever sent to another world.

Equipped with six instruments, including cameras and radar, the orbiter is providing scientists with the most detailed look at Martian landscape yet. One of the cameras, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), snaps extremely high-resolution images of the Martian surface, giving scientists a clear view of the terrain. By studying the geology and climate of Mars, scientists hope to determine whether life was ever present, and whether it might someday be possible for humans to inhabit the Red Planet.

** Launch the gallery here to see the remarkable images and what they’re teaching scientists about the prospect of life on Mars.**