Cool new images of Mars but, JPL scientist says, just you wait

  Mars_main

Haunting new images of the surface of Mars have been released, courtesy of the European Space Agency, but the best may be yet to come, so says at least one scientist here in the U.S.

The newly released images, captured by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express satellite, focus on the Eberswalde crater. Formed more than 3.7 billion years ago, the crater is an enormous 65 kilometers in diameter.

Its landscape is dry, desolate -- and clearly carved by water. As the space agency notes in an accompanying report, a delta and its feeder channels are well preserved in the canyon. And the pictures show where the feeder channels led to a large lake.

PHOTOS: Eberswalde and Holden craters

Matt Golombek, a scientist with the Mars Exploration Program Landing Site program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory here in Southern California, agreed that the new images are beautiful. But he noted that the Eberswalde crater was recently rejected by the Mars Science Laboratory as the landing site for the next Mars rover.

In a telephone interview with The Times, he insisted that the new rover landing site will yield a better scientific experience, and perhaps even more gorgeous photos. That location -- the Gale crater -- was selected by a group of about 100 scientists from around the world.

"It's even more cool looking, because you are going to land inside this crater and a 5-kilometer high mound is right next to you," he said. "It's like being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and looking up, except bigger. It is going to be visually quite stunning."

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Image: The Eberswalde crater contains a rare Martian delta. Channels that fed the lake in the crater are well-preserved, and together, the delta deposits and channels provide a clear indication of liquid surface water during the early history of Mars. Credits: European Space Agency / German Aerospace Center / Freie University Berlin (G. Neukum)

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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