Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mars Express: 10 years of capturing the Red Planet - Photos

CNET - Mars Express, the first planetary explorer for the European Space Agency, is celebrating 10 years of taking images of the Red Planet. Using data obtained from the High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) onboard, the spacecraft has returned hundreds of images since the mission began.

The HRSC has been imaging the planet in color and 3D with a resolution of about 10 meters. Selected areas have been imaged in even greater detail, at a 2-meter resolution. One of the camera's greatest strengths is the pointing accuracy achieved by combining images at the two different resolutions, along with the perspective view of the 3D imaging created with the MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding) which has revealed the topography of Mars in full color.

"As the 2-metre resolution image is nested in a 10-metre resolution swath, we will know precisely where we are looking. The 2-metre resolution channel will allow us to pick out great detail on the surface," says Gerhard Neukum, HRSC principal investigator from Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Germany.

Here, Mars Express offers a close-up view of the mesa inside Hebes Chasma. Material has slumped down onto the floor of the valley below, and along the side of the mound fine horizontal layering is seen, likely a mix of wind-blown dust and ancient lake sediments, along with remnants of more ancient plateaus.

View the Slideshow!