For years, NASA scientists have seen glimpses of the Red Planet's terrain in some photos taken by Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It's definitely alien, but not so alien that we aren't reminded a bit of terrestrial landscapes.
NASA has a special section on its website comparing the Earth and Mars— in some aspects, like climate, our planets are remarkably similar. For some space enthusiasts, however, it might be difficult to look beyond the planet's bright red dirt and rock, which is a result of oxidized iron saturating the planet's surface material.
Click through the photos below for a look at the landscapes on Mars.
This undated image made available by NASA shows Mars' Gale Crater, looking south. The formation is 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a layered mountain rising about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor.
First color panorama taken by Opportunity, showing the Martian landscape at Meridiani Planum, shortly after the rover touched down.
This high-resolution image captured by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity's panoramic camera highlights the layered rocks on Mars, measuring only 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall and are thought to be either volcanic ash deposits or sediments carried by water or wind. Data from the panoramic camera's near-infrared, blue and green filters were combined to create this approximate, true-color image.
Fram crater is an impact crater on Mars. It was visited by the rover Opportunity in 2004.
This image of the Burns Cliff inside of Endurance Crater on Mars is based on an approximate true-color mosaic based on multiple frames taken through color filters.
This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winter in 2011.
This mosaic of images taken in mid-January 2012 shows the windswept vista northward (left) to northeastward (right) from the location where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is spending its fifth Martian winter, an outcrop informally named "Greeley Haven."
A portion of the west rim of Endeavour crater sweeps southward in this color view from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The view is presented in false color to emphasize differences among materials in the rocks and the soils.
This enhanced-color image shows sand dunes trapped in an impact crater in Noachis Terra, Mars. Dunes and sand ripples of various shapes and sizes display the natural beauty created by physical processes. The area covered in the image is about six-tenths of a mile (1 kilometer) across.
The Twin Peaks are modest-size hills to the southwest of the Mars Pathfinder landing site. They were discovered on the first panoramas taken by the IMP camera on the 4th of July, 1997, and subsequently identified in Viking Orbiter images taken over 20 years ago.
The rim and interior of a crater nicknamed "Bonneville" dominate this false-color mosaic of images taken by the panoramic camera of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Spirit recorded this view on March 12, 2004.
This approximate true-color rendering of the central part of the "Columbia Hills" was made using images taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on June 3, 2004.