Now you can explore the surface of Mars at unprecedented levels of detail

For years, The University of Arizona's HiRISE camera has been snapping breathtaking high-resolution images of the Red Planet from aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. And now, the UofA's HiRISE team has released an awesome new imaging application called HiVIEW that lets you explore thousands upon thousands of ultra hi-res Martian images at unprecedented levels of detail.

Here's how to get set up: head over to the HiVIEW homepage to download the application (it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac); install the application and open it up on your computer; then check out the extensive (and searchable) HiVIEW catalog for mind-bogglingly MASSIVE hi-res images of points of interest all over the Martian surface. Don't try to download them (these things are hundreds of megabytes) — instead, find the image you want and just drag and drop its link into the HiVIEW application window; you'll be zooming around the Martian surface in no time. The image up top — a close-up of a gullied crater wall on Mars' surface — was taken from within HiVIEW just a couple minutes after I downloaded it.

You can also watch this video released by the HiRISE team for a quick intro the application and how to use it. Some images you might want to try dragging and dropping into HiVIEW include ones of Gale Crater (the proposed landing sight of the Curiosity rover that was launched just last month); the tracks left by the Opportunity rover at Victoria Crater; and images of Valles Marineris — the largest canyon in the solar system.

Happy hunting! And let us know what you find!

[HiRISE]