Bowled Over

One of the Phoenix images that has most captivated has been the one that shows the rest of the background of that startling image of the parachute part of the landing phase that was taken by the Reconnaissance orbiter’s HiRiSE camera. I showed it a few days ago here, and it is amazing, for all the reasons I said back then and more. I’m still buzzed by the idea that we have cameras from another craft photographing the landing of a new craft. Well, a while later, the mission released the photo showing the larger backdrop to that image. There’s the (giant 10 km) Heimdall crater in the background! (See the little inset bottom left showing where the previous image focussed; credit: NASA/JPL).

Phoenix landing on Mars  with Heimdall crater in background

Rather dramatic, wouldn’t you agree? It’s not really as close to the crater as it seems, but the sense of scale and grandeur the photo imparts is just perfect, reinforcing a certain (appropriate) feeling of humility in the face of it all – Phoenix is just a tiny speck on a giant landscape of dramatic features spanning remarkable scales.

-cvj

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