When you think of Mars, you think of a scorched desert landscape. It’s nicknamed the Red Planet for a reason. So excuse me for doing a double take when NASA released the first image you see in the gallery above.
You wouldn’t guess it’s a picture of Mars, but I assure you it is. Unfortunately, it’s not what you think it is.
Snapped by NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, the close-up image reveals a light-toned deposit in Aureum Chaos, a stretch of land in the eastern part of Valles Marineris.
“The objective of this observation is to examine a light-toned deposit in a region of what is called ‘chaotic terrain,’” NASA explained. “There are indications of layers in the image. Some shapes suggest erosion by a fluid moving north and south. The top of the light-toned deposit appears rough, in contrast to the smoothness of its surroundings.”
The minerals in the ground are what gives the deposit its bluish hue, as if we’re looking at a satellite image of a lake here on Earth. While the surface of Mars is predominantly red, the planet does contain some splashes of color. Perhaps these light-toned deposits will make for a good flyover spot before humans take up residence on the Martian planet.