Even as writers obsess about when Elon Musk will land on Mars, the ever-expanding robot battalion continues to churn out valuable information.
Landers and rovers get much attention, but one of my favorite science packages is the HiRISE imager on board Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. HiRISE, managed by the U of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab, has been sending back thousands of amazing (and amazingly large), digital photographs of the Martian terrain, for scientists and citizens alike. It's a big beast:
And these are no ordinary snapshots. In full color, each HiRISE image is a strip 4K pixels high by 126K pixels wide. Here's a link to the optical and mechanical stuff. From orbit, the camera can resolve objects a foot across, or even smaller, depending on contrast.
HiRISE shows us that Mars is more diverse and interesting than we might gather from the typical "Mars: reddish god of war" photos. Here's a HiRISE view of Martian dunes:
Here's a link to an ebook in HiRISE's "Beautiful Mars" series: Exploring Mojave Crater.
Following is a composite using a HiRISE photo layered on one of my backyard ice images (note: this image is low-res):
HiRise photos are remarkable for the texture they provide, such as waves on sand dunes. I did the blending with Procreate, one of my favorite apps.