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Volcanic cones formed by water bursting upwards as it boils when it’s covered by lava.

It has long been a planet of wonder, leaving early astronomers to speculate about advanced alien civilisations.  Now modern-day star-gazers can enjoy stunning new close-up images of Mars’ diverse surface after they were released by NASA today. (Pics)


The photographs were taken with a telephoto lens which can focus on objects the size of a beach ball from more than 180 miles away.

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Part of a 7.4-mile-diameter impact crater on the southern hemisphere

They zoom in on a range of terrains – from volcanic cones and cratered planes to wind-swept dunes to crusts of ice.

It forms part of the project using the HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera which has been circulating the Red Planet for more than four years.

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Mars’ distinctive colouring is a result of iron oxide which is prevalent on its surface

There are 236 dramatic new images, taken between July 8 and July 31, which show Mars almost from pole to pole.

They also capture evidence of ongoing geological processes on the planet today, such as fresh craters that may have formed between January and June.

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This false-colour image shows seasonal streaks of material near Mars’ north pole

Mars has long proved a source of wonder for stargazers until Mariner 4 made the first flyby by a spacecraft in 1965.

Until that point, it was speculated that water was present in liquid form on the planet which can be seen from Earth with the naked eye.

Since then, unmanned missions have taken geological samples which suggest the surface was once covered with water.

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Part of the Melas Chasma, a vast canyon on Mars, exposes layered deposits that may be sediments from an old lake or they could be windblown sediment deposits and volcanic ash

In 2005, radar data revealed the presence of large quantities of water ice at the poles, and at mid-latitudes and in 2008 water in ice form was sample in shallow soil.

Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, and has an average distance from Earth of 78m km but can come as close as 55.7m km.

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This is one of the candidates – a dark spot between Mars’ northern lowlands and southern highlands – for the next Mars rover to land

It also boasts the highest mountain in the solar system, as well as the largest canyon.

Via Daily Mail