Using two high-resolution photographs of the same surface, geologists can produce Digital Terrain Models (DTMs). DTMs are hugely useful to researchers looking to measure and model geological processes on other worlds. These DTMs of Mars are also absolutely gorgeous to look at.
Above: Layering in Galle Crater (The "happy face crater" featured in Watchmen) | Location | Hi-res JPG
Mars is home to some wild geological features, but studying them from millions of miles away is not always easy. DTMs make the task more manageable, but producing them is incredibly time-intensive. Few digital terrain models are as beautifully detailed as the ones we have of Mars, which are colorized according to elevation to provide a sense of dimension. Captured by NASA's powerful HiRISE camera, NASA's DTMs of Mars have proven indispensable in everything from the study of rare impact craters on the planet's North polar cap to choosing a landing site for NASA's Curiosity rover.
You can check out all of the HiRISE DTMs here, but we've included a few of the most eye-catching examples below. Each of these selections has been cropped from a much larger image, which you can view, and read more about, by following the links below each DTM.
Cones Formed by Hot Lava Running Over Water or Ice (click here for more hot lava-on-ice action) | Location | Hi-res JPG
This animation of Gale Crater, Curiosity rover's landing sight, was made using DTM data: