March 18



I’m a Mars fananatic. And with the recent Perseverance rover landing, and two other missions that arrived at the Red Planet last month, Mars is more popular than ever! Maybe it’s because Mars is our closest neighbor in the solar system, and we can see its faint reddish light with our own eyes. Whatever the reason, earthlings are very curious about Mars.


Several years ago I discovered the most fascinating Mars photos I’ve ever seen.

Actually, they’re breathtaking!



The pictures were taken by a camera called HiRISE which has been orbiting Mars since 2006. HiRISE (short for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet.



As I investigated these stunning Mars images, I knew young readers would love them too! That led to years of research, and the creation of a new picture book, MARS IS: STARK SLOPES, SILVERY SNOW, AND STARTLING SURPRISES. This photo-illustrated title shares interesting science details about many HiRISE photos.



Using its telescopic lens, HiRISE has taken more than 69,000 photos of Mars and is still sending new pictures to Earth today. These images are color-enhanced photos to allow scientists to “see” details their eyes could not ordinarily detect. They contain invaluable data about Mars’ features such as volcanoes, canyons, craters, sandy dunes, and ice.


But HiRISE images aren’t just informative. They’re also incredibly beautiful.

Just take a peek at the gorgeous HiRISE photos below. These unique pictures offer a glimpse of Mars like you’ve never seen it before!



This HiRISE image shows roundish slabs of ice (frozen carbon dioxide) near Mars’ South Pole during winter. Scientists believe Martian dust became trapped inside the icy walls around these ice pits, creating the gold-like color in the photo.



This fresh crater, measuring about 100 feet across, was created by the impact of an incoming object. The large blast zone around it extends over 9 miles from its center. NASA estimates the crater was created between 2010 and 2012, which makes it a very young crater.



The sandy dunes on the northern side of Mars are covered with snow and ice (frozen carbon dioxide) each winter. In spring, sunlight warms this frozen area and the ice starts to crack. Gas that was trapped beneath the ices escapes through the cracks and carries dark sand up with it, creating this lovely landscape.



Juventae Chasma is a large box canyon on Mars. A box canyon has three steep sides and one shorter side called the mouth. The bright colors in this HiRISE photo give scientists important information about the different types of minerals in the canyon.



And now, here’s the official book trailer reveal for MARS IS: STARK SLOPES, SILVERY SNOW, AND STARTLING SURPRISES:



For more Mars fun, check out NASA’s Mars Photo Booth where you can create a photo of yourself on Mars!


[Photos courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona]


Suzanne Slade, a 2021 Sibert Honor author, has written more than 140 books for children. As a mechanical engineer who worked on rockets, she often writes about STEM and space topics. A few of her recents titles include: June Almeida Virus Detective! The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus, Swish! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, and Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon.

You can find her online at: @AuthorSSlade