New York, January 13 -- Latest pictures from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show hilly desert area with islands of trees on Mar’s surface.
The orbiter, which was commissioned to search for water on the planet, took the images that show a thin coating of frozen carbon dioxide or dry ice.
However, the trees are nothing but an optical illusion.
NASA's Candy Hansen told The Sun, “The streaks are sand, dislodged as ice evaporates, which slide down the dune. At this time of the Martian year the whole scene is covered by CO2 frost.”
“The color of the ice surrounding adjacent streaks of material suggests that dust has settled on the ice at the bottom after similar events,” he added.
Images find lava on Mars
The picture, taken by the powerful HiRISE camera, has focused attention on Mar’s polar region.
NASA also released an image showing lava in the Athabasca Valley of Elysium Planitia region on Mars. The image, which made scientists believe the region was highly active once, shows deposits of opaline silica and iron.
Scientists also assume there was water on Mar’s surface once, which made the area look like that. However, the source of water is still a mystery.
Transmissions from Phoenix Mars lander tracked
Recently, NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter also tracked radio transmissions from Phoenix Mars lander. The Phoenix lander, a robotic spacecraft, descended on Mars on May 25, 2008.
The aim of the spacecraft was to find out possible sources of life on the red planet. Its biggest accomplishment was when it found water in the form of ice.
The radio transmissions can unravel many mysteries of the planet. Phoenix will now undertake two long “listening campaigns” from Jan. 18.
Chad Edwards, chief telecommunications engineer for the Mars Exploration Programme at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, “We will perform a sufficient number of contact attempts that if we don't detect a transmission from Phoenix, we can have a high degree of confidence that the lander is not active.”
NASA’s new telescope finds giant planets
NASA never tires from exploration and discoveries. Last month, the agency introduced a new telescope which detected five new planets outside the solar system.
The new worlds, called exoplanets, are bigger than Neptune, and NASA said the discovery was a big leap for them as it meant the new telescope was working well.