The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

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.

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Bullseye Crater of Medusae Fossae Formation Over Platy-Ridged Lava | Location | High-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Cones Among the Tartarus Montes | Location | High-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Channelized Lava Flow through a Constriction | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Cones Formed by Hot Lava Running Over Water or Ice (click here for more hot lava-on-ice action) | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Oblique Impact Exposing Bedrock within a Libya Montes Massif | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Gasa Crater Gully Monitoring | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Possible Chloride Salt Deposits Observed in THEMIS | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Faulted Layers in Impact Crater in Meridiani Planum | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Crater in Western Arabia Terra with Stair-Stepped Hills and Dark Dunes | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Basal Unit and Dunes | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Light-Toned Layering in Labyrinthus Noctis Pit | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Fresh Crater in North Polar Layered Deposits | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

North Polar Crater | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Ring and Cone Structures Plus Dunes and Other Landforms in Athabasca Valles | Location | Hi-res JPG

The most beautiful images of Mars you've ever seen

Layered Rock Outcrops in Southwest Candor Chasma | Location | Hi-res JPG

This animation of Gale Crater, Curiosity rover's landing sight, was made using DTM data:

For more examples of colorful astrogeology, see here and here.

All images and image titles courtesy NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/USGS.