You get thousands of close-up images of the Red Planet that both brim with scientifically useful detail and look amazingly beautiful.
Truth be told, the primary camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter — the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE — has recorded so many astounding views that it's hard to single out the best ones. For example, the HiRISE team maintains a compendium of all captioned images to date, which as of mid-2010 totaled more than 900!Yet, for many planet-watchers, the potential of this camera's unprecedented imagery didn’t register until October 2006, seven months after its arrival, when the camera peered down from orbit and snapped a view of Victoria crater that not only showed the rover Opportunity perched on the crenelated rim but also the tracks it ‘d made to get there!
If that evidence weren’t convincing enough, some trick shooting by the HiRISE team on May 25, 2008, picked off the Phoenix descent capsule and its parachute in midair as they dove toward the craft’s landing site.
Working with the camera's scientists, we offered up a dozen selections in the September 2010 issue that represent the "best of the best." Unfortunately, far more great shots filled our list than we could publish.
So here's an encore assortment of HiRISE images to captivate your eyes and engage your curiosity. Enjoy!