Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Fall of Marsdust

This is very cool: the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter just happened to capture this photo of an avalanche in progress, on the Martian north polar icecap. What are the odds? The article at the MRO site is worth reading for the details, so I won't bother summarizing it here. If you have high-speed internet (or lots of patience), have a look at the high-res version.

To me, it brings home that Mars is a world, not just a red dot in the sky. And unlike the moon, it's a world where stuff happens -- landslides, weather, erosion -- and happens now, not just a billion years ago. By complete coincidence I just happen to be re-reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Red/Green/Blue Mars SF trilogy, which covers the first about 150 years of Martian colonization. It's a great story, with strong characters, strong social and political themes, with the planet itself -- its environment, its geology, its history -- being overwhelmingly present throughout.

I want to know: when are we sending humans there to explore the place? When are we sending humans there to live?

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