Hot Discovery

Hot Discovery

Hot Discovery

In an impact crater somewhere on Mars there is intense excitement. For the first time, explorers have found evidence of hydrothermal deposits. Digging around in the shattered rocks in the crater the explorers find the tell-tale signs of minerals altered by the high temperature water that spewed into the crater after the impact event.

The rocks are a source of great interest – will they reveal signatures of life that once lived in the crater taking advantage of the liquid water and the warmth? Will they reveal new insights into the effects of asteroid and comet impacts on the surface of the Red Planet at a time when water was more abundant? Will they tell us about the possibility of habitats for life on present-day Mars?

The discovery of fossil hydrothermal deposits on Mars by human explorers will one of the scientific highlights of the first human missions. This image captures this unique and important moment.

Michael Carroll says of this painting, ”Future explorers will undoubtedly scramble around the slippery, sandy slopes of ancient calderas. I have been in quite a few, and they tend to be exhilarating as well as often treacherous. I wanted this painting to have the feel of lots of scrappy rock in the foreground, with a steep-sided far wall to give us the feeling of being on the edge of a dizzying height. I also wanted to give the viewer the idea that lots of light is bouncing around. This is certainly the situation in a closed environment like the bowl of a reflective crater.’

The reflected rock in the foreground astronaut’s hand has hints of green within its hollows. Is this olivine? Extremophilic green fuzz? Time—and further exploration—will tell’.

Copyright status : Michael Carroll/Earth and Space Foundation

About the Artist


Michael Carroll has been an astronomical artist for over two decades. He has done work for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and his paintings have appeared in several hundred magazines throughout the world, including Time, National Geographic, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Omni, Smithsonian, Asimov’s, Astronomy, Astronomy Now, Ciel et Espace, Newton, and Sky & Telescope.

His paintings have aired on various TV specials, and have embellished record albums and numerous books, including works by Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, David Brin, Terence Dickenson and others. He has exhibited his paintings at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Moscow’s Institute for Space Research (IKI), and the Fleet Science Center.

Carroll is a Fellow of the International Association for the Astronomical Arts, which he helped to found in 1984. He was one of 7 North American space artists invited by the Space Research Institute of the former USSR to attend the Space Future Forum in Moscow in l987, where he consulted with Soviet scientists and artists. While there, he helped to establish the Dialogues project, a series of workshops and exhibitions involving Soviet, American and European artists. One of his digitized paintings was aboard Russia¹s doomed Mars 96 mission, and an original flew aboard MIR.

He has also painted murals, including two 70-foot works for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He has also painted murals in Michigan, California, and for Lockheed/Martin and the Planetary Society. Carroll has also painted at numerous historic fossil quarry sites. He is the recipient of the 2001 and 2002 Reader¹s Choice award for outstanding science fiction cover art.

Carroll is also a science journalist. In addition to writing for science magazines, He and his wife, Caroline, coauthored the Exploring God’s World series, which includes the Gold Medallion finalist Dinosaurs.

All images in the Foundation’s collection are copyright to the artists or the Foundation. Reproduction of these images is not allowed without permission (in some cases permission for reproduction can be obtained directly from the artists who maintain reproduction copyright). These images are low resolution versions of the originals.