Mary C. Bourke, Trinity College, Dublin

I am a planetary geomorphologist who works on extreme events (such as landslides and floods) and extreme environments (e.g., the deserts in Australia and Namibia). The Martian landscape is an extreme extreme environment. The antiquity of its surface is unparalleled on Earth, and while the range of landforms is similar to many environments on Earth, there are also several examples where they are intriguingly different. Mars is a challenging environment to work on but one that is at the frontier of the field of geomorphology

The BeautifulMars Project appealed to me because it showcases some of the most wonderful images taken by the HiRISE instrument of the surface of Mars. The project makes the images accessible to many through social media outlets such as Tumblr and Twitter. In particular it engages a younger demographic and that is important for the future of STEM.

There is an enormous appetite in Ireland for space exploration and planetary science. Ireland has had a close association with Mars since Jonathan Swift “discovered” its two moons in 1726, a century and a half before Asaph Hall. “Gullivers’ Travels” is now one of the classic books resting on Mars aboard the Phoenix lander and one of the craters on Deimos is named in honor of Swift. The Beautiful Mars translation project is another way in which the excellent science science can be communicated to an Irish audience. A second and equally important reason was to provide interesting materials for public outreach and education. Perhaps if children realized they could learn about Mars as Gaeilge it would encourage their learning of their native tongue.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact The BeautifulMars Project.

About HiRISE
The HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is the most powerful one of its kind ever sent to another planet. Its high resolution allows us to see Mars like never before, and helps other missions choose a safe spot to land for future exploration.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and is operated by the University of Arizona.