What Is This?

Just what the hell is going on here? A piece of candy under the microscope? An oil slick? Are we all on drugs right now? No — well, maybe you are — but this picture isn't the result. It's from spaaa-aaace.

What you're looking at is a volcano. A Martian volcano, to be exact, named Tharsis Tholus. It looks pretty crazy here, but it's actually extinct — just a big cold hole in the ground. The reason it looks so psychedelic is because it's more than just a photo — it's a Digital Terrain Model created by the European Space Agency, with colours corresponding to height. So, no, Mars isn't actually coloured like a Skittle. Not yet, at least. [ESA via New Scientist]

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