This feature on the surface of Mars looks a bit like a bear’s face. What is it really?
There’s a hill with a V-shaped collapse structure (the nose), two craters (the eyes), and a circular fracture pattern (the head). The circular fracture pattern might be due to the settling of a deposit over a buried impact crater. Maybe the nose is a volcanic or mud vent and the deposit could be lava or mud flows?
Maybe just grin and bear it.
The image was captured by the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HIRISE), a big and powerful camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
HiRISE has photographed hundreds of targeted swaths of Mars’ surface in unprecedented detail. Its camera operates in visible wavelengths, the same as human eyes, but with a telescopic lens that produces images at resolutions that are unprecedented in planetary exploration missions. With these high-resolution images, scientists are able to distinguish 1-meter-size (about 3-foot-size) objects on Mars and to study the morphology (surface structure) in a much more comprehensive manner than ever before.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a spacecraft sent by NASA to Mars to study the planet’s surface and atmosphere. It was launched in 2005 and has been in orbit around Mars since 2006. MRO has provided high-resolution images of the Martian surface and has made numerous important discoveries about the planet, including finding evidence of liquid water.