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Boulder-strewn plain in Northern Utopia Planitia

Mesas in Aureum Chaos

Collapsing volcano: Edge of Olympus Mons

Dunes on floor of Samara Valles

Deposits on the floor of Palos Crater

Dust-mantled topography near Zephyria Tholus

Lobate debris apron in Deuteronilus Mensae

Icy layers near the Martian north pole

NASA on Wednesday released some of the shots that resulted when it handed over command of the HiRise camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and let the general public choose its Martian targets.

Since January, NASA has been accepting recommendations from the public for where its High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, nicknamed "the people's camera," should focus on Mars. About 1,000 have been suggested through the so-called HiWish program already, according to a NASA statement, but so far only eight actual images have been released.

This image shows the common landscape of the northern plains, which are covered in scattered rocks and boulders. The area shown is about about two-thirds of a mile wide.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The HiWish program isn't the first time NASA has opened up its research cameras to the public. In 2003, the agency began taking public recommendations for the Mars Global Surveyor as it mapped the Martian surface. Another camera aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter began taking public suggestions in 2009.

You can make a suggestion for HiRise at

This image shows an area about two-thirds of a mile wide and shows the textured surface that NASA theorizes was created as the loss of groundwater or ground ice caused the ground to collapse, forming deep valleys and hills.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
This image, also a suggestion through the HiWish program, shows the northern edge of Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. The rim of the volcano is marked by cliffs several miles high, says NASA. Here, it is 23,000 feet tall.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

This shot, taken from the HiRise camera, shows one of Mars' longest systems of valleys, called the Samara Valles. The valley system covers more than 621 miles of the Martian surface.

The false-color images taken by HiRise use three color filters--red, infrared, and blue-green--so they do not appear as the human eye would see them, but are able to more clearly display surfaces details.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
An array of bumpy outcroppings and eroded impact craters sit on the floor of the Palos Crater near the Mars equator.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
This image was suggested in order to test the hypothesis that a Martian hill called Zephyria Tholus was created by a volcanic eruption. Unfortunately, NASA says the image mostly just shows a lot of dust hiding the bedrock the image was intended to expose. But NASA holds this image up as a great example of how targeted suggestions can help test hypotheses that have been made in research over the years.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

This image shows the terrain of the Deuteronilus Mensae region, which sits in Mars' northern hemisphere. The area is defined by mesas surrounded by "lobate debris aprons" that are thought to be ice-rich, according to NASA.

The agency says it suspects these aprons are made up of a variety of possible features including rock glaciers, ice-rich mass movements, or debris-covered glacial flows. Recent radar data indicates they may be made of nearly pure ice. This HiRise image shows an area at the edge of one of these mesas with a lobate debris apron extending from its base.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
This image of a Martian ice sheet shows the many layers that mark variations in the planet's climate. The layers are exposed on the sloping surface of the edge of the ice sheet. NASA likens the layers to those found in an ice sheet in Greenland.

For more images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, see "Photos: Mars orbiter's abstract impressions."

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
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