Here’s a nice sexy photo for you. I hope it’s obvious that it’s not one of me. Neither, in fact, is it of anyone I know. Let me ask a stupid question: what’s it a picture of?

A photo of . . . ?

At first sight, it’s pretty obvious. It’s some part of a woman’s body, with some wispy see-through clothing. I can’t quite tell which bit of her it is—it could be her lower back, or the top of her cleavage, or it could even be . . .

Well, it’s not any of these things. It’s not part of a woman’s body. It’s not part of anyone’s body. It’s not a close-up of anything. It’s not even a picture of anything from Earth.

It’s a photograph of Mars, taken a few months ago by the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter. You’re looking at a vast expanse of sand dunes. To see it in all its amazing glory, view the original photo at the University of Arizona. It’s quite stunning. (It’s also the other way up; I turned it round to help mislead you about what it was.) And to find out a little more about it, read this article by The Bad Astronomer.

Beauty which is out of this world.