Strange Shadows Make Martian Valley Look Like Lungs Under X-Rays

Osuga Valles region of Mars 7 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL/UArizona
Osuga Valles region of MarsOsuga Valles in 3DOsuga Valles in contextOsuga Valles region of MarsOsuga Valles topographyPerspective view of Osuga Valles
Ever since it arrived in orbit around Mars back in 2006, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been sending back incredible images of the planet, showing bits and pieces of it in great detail thanks to a wonderful instrument called the High Resolution Imaging Experiment.
People call this instrument the HiRISE, and it’s one of the most important bits of technology we presently have out there because, for one, it’s in orbit, and one doesn’t get a better vantage point than that, and secondly, it has been up there for so long we are now capable of tracking changes on the planet’s surface.

Given how the long-term exploration efforts made on Earth have Mars as the ultimate goal, we’ve started covering the images HiRISE is sending back, so we may have a better idea of how the planet really looks like before we get there.

Today, we’re showing a piece of a place called Osuga Valles. What we’re looking at is described by the people over at NASA and the University of Arizona, who run the HiRISE, as an “outflow area, probably the result of ancient and catastrophic flooding.”

In essence, we just have a deep pit at one end of the valley, and small hills dotting the area. The entire place is 164 km (102 miles) long, 20 km (12 miles) wide, and at its deepest, it can reach 900 meters (2,953 feet).

As seen in the main photo of this piece, shot by the HiRISE from an altitude of 261 km (162 km) all the way back in 2014, the light and shadow play in the area makes the whole place look like some pulmonary X-ray, once again bringing to light how we humans look for the most familiar of shapes even in the most unfamiliar of places.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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