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Website of the Week — HiRISE Mars images


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

This week, it's a virtual journey to Mars for a website that displays and explains images captured by a satellite, which has been sending back breathtaking pictures from its vantage point high above the red planet.

ESPINOZA: "The HiRISE website is for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. It is a website that shows pictures that come back from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that we show to the entire world. It's all the information that we get. We process images, and then we release them for the public to see."

Yisrael Espinoza is web designer for the HiRISE website, online at

Once upon a time, space photography was hard to access. Some pictures taken from spacecraft were released to the public, but mostly they remained locked away, generally available only to researchers.

Today, however, thanks to the Web, much more space imagery is available, and our Website of the Week is a great example.

Not only do you get Mars photos that are visually amazing, but there's also information to help you understand what you're seeing.

ESPINOZA: "What we try to do is offer captions that our science team will write with specific images. They will offer their interpretation of what they're seeing. But we also offer some information about the observation itself. That's the great thing about the website: it offers you the tools to do your own analysis if you're inclined to do so."

One of the most effective sections of the site, I think, is called Science Themes, where pictures are grouped to illustrate different things happening on the Martian surface — asteroid impact craters, evidence of climate change, even possible landing sites for future missions.

There are also resources for teachers and students, and Yisrael Epsinoza says they hope the pictures will stimulate your imagination.

ESPINOZA: "I think the simple act of discovery can almost start with looking at a picture. And I think it would be amazing if a young person somewhere saw an image and decided, I'd like to do this for a living."

Close-ups of Mars online at, or get the link from our site,