The stunning photo that NASA recently shared of a landslide on Mars looks more like a watercolor painting than the Red Planet.
According to NASA’s press release, the area of Mars pictured in the photo is called the Cerberus Fossae, a steep-sided set of troughs slicing volcanic plains.
The image was captured by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. Landslides, or “mass wasting,” are active throughout the steep slopes in the Cerberus Fossae; the area is believed to be the youngest of the Red Planet’s fault systems.
NASA identifies two categories of activities happening in Cerberus Fossae. One is the light blue boulders on the slope that seem to come from the bedrock layer (also a light blue shade) at the top. The other is the recurring slope lineae that the dark thin lines illustrate, probably because of mass wasting, but made of finer-grained materials.
Earlier this week, NASA’s InSight lander detected a faint signal through its Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures (SEIS) instrument, and they believe it to be the first recorded “marsquake” on the Red Planet. Rather than a motion caused by above-the-surface weather conditions, this tremble may have begun inside the planet.
“We’ve been waiting months for a signal like this. It’s so exciting to finally have proof that Mars is still seismically active,” said Philippe Lognonné, SEIS team lead at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP).
Similar data gathering about the Red Planet will be collected by the InSight lander’s seismometer, which was placed on Mars in December.