That’s pretty much what happened to the photo we have here. It shows a small part of the massive Valles Marineris canyon that spreads for 4,000 miles (2,500 km) along the planet’s equator, in the usual shades of red we associate with Mars.
The image was received here on Earth earlier this summer, but it was requested by an unnamed part all the way back in 2006, the year the MRO reached its orbit. The huge delay happened, said NASA and the University of Arizona, who run MRO’s HiRISE, because of the “many competing targets in the Valles Marineris canyon system.”
Now that it’s here, the image reveals what appears to be the remnants of a massive landslide that carried rocks from the walls of the canyon to its floor. “Lower-resolution infrared data had previously revealed an unusual concentration of the igneous mineral orthopyroxene at this location,” say the scientists.
Probably not exactly something one would expect to be treated with after 15 years of waiting, but an important piece nonetheless in the puzzle that will help us better understand this planet.