This stunning picture of the Nili Fossae region on Mars will take your breath away. US space agency NASA has unveiled a breath-taking colourful image of the Nili Fossae region, which is located on the northwest rim of Isidis impact basin on the red planet. On Mars, Nili Fossae is one of the most colourful regions. Dust and regolith are responsible for the colours over several regions of Mars. But at Nili Fossae, the bedrock is exposed quite well leaving those areas where sand dunes are present.
The compositions of rocks are also diverse. The ancient Nili Fossae region has had a complicated geologic history. It has interesting structures including layered bedrock and other compositions.
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter clicked this beautiful picture on February 5, 2016, at 14:54 local Mars time. HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson and was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.
The presence of several minerals including carbonate minerals, aluminum smectite, iron/magnesium smectites, hydrated silica, kaolinite group minerals, and iron oxides are responsible for the vibrant colours in the region.
“Nili Fossae Trough is a huge crack in the surface of Mars. The linear trough is about 25 kilometers (16 miles) wide. It formed when a huge meteor slammed into the surface and created the Isidis Basin to the east, one of the four largest impact basins on Mars. The impact caused the Martian surface to deform. The region has one of the largest, most diverse exposures of clay minerals. Clay minerals contain water in their mineral structure and may preserve organic materials. Scientists are excited about studying such deposits to understand past environments that could have supported life," NASA explains.
"The Mars Science Laboratory rover would land in the center of the trough, amid rocks that splattered outward when the crater formed. Volcanic rocks are also abundant, left behind by cooling lava that filled the trough. Over its mission, the rover would drive westward to a side canyon in the wall of the trough. There, spacecraft have detected a diversity of minerals in the ancient crust.”
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.