Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday beautiful science

Today's Friday beautiful science is us. Here's a shot of our tiny little planet, as seen from Mars. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HIRISE) is orbiting Mars:

Launched in August 2005, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) is flying onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission. HiRISE will investigate deposits and landforms resulting from geologic and climatic processes and assist in the evaluation of candidate landing sites.
But in this particular image, they've pointed their cameras at earth to get a shot of the earth and the moon.

As an aside, I wanted to put this shot down as the Friday beautiful science this week, but Mrs. Factician thinks it's too difficult to look at. I'll let you be the judge.

This is another shot taken by the HIRISE. It's catching an avalanche in real time. The top of the mountain is on the left side of the photo, sloping downwards to the right. Those clouds to the right are dust thrown up by the avalanche. Absolutely beautiful. This photo is false colored.
Material, likely including fine-grained ice and dust and possibly including large blocks, has detached from a towering cliff and cascaded to the gentler slopes below. The occurrence of the avalanches is spectacularly revealed by the accompanying clouds of fine material that continue to settle out of the air. The largest cloud (upper images) traces the path of the debris as it fell down the slope, hit the lower slope, and continues downhill, forming a billowing cloud front. This cloud is about 180 meters (590 feet) across and extends about 190 m (625 ft) from the base of the steep cliff. Shadows to the lower left of each cloud illustrate further that these are three dimensional features hanging in the air in front of the cliff face, and not markings on the ground (sun is from the upper right).


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