Decoding Mars

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20 Hidden Worlds

Scientists rely on pattern recognition skills to make sense of images that can tell the geologic history of Earth. By applying these skills to images from Mars, they are also able to make some educated guesses about that planet's geology.

Find out if you are predisposed to this incredible super science skill. Can you advance through all the levels to face the ultimate Mars Challenge?

Mars
Mars, our nearest planetary neighbor in space, is a tantalizing puzzle. It’s so close to us, but it looks so different. Earliest images show a red, desert surface--nothing is living there, seemingly nothing is moving there. Recent technological advances and discoveries--made through geological studies of meteorites, satellite images, and rover explorations on Mars’ surface--reveal a much more complicated, and intriguing story. In this activity, you will be challenged to look at geologic patterns on Earth, including microscopic patterns in thin sections, earth formation patterns in outcrops or roadcuts, and large-scale feature patterns in satellite images. As you advance through each level of training, you will gain skills to prepare you for the ultimate challenge: Decoding Mars. Credit: W.S. MacKenzie and A.E. Adams, 2011
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Do you have pattern recognition powers? Examine geologic patterns on Earth as training for deciphering images of geology from Mars.