This May Be The Best Image Of Mars We’ve Ever Seen

Recorded by a Mars orbiter operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), it shows a glorious view of the Red Planet with an impact crater, ice, sand dunes and more.

This spacecraft is the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), part of the ExoMars project. It entered orbit around Mars in October 2016 (and deployed a landing module that failed), but a few weeks ago it was moved to a new orbital near circular, about 400 kilometers above the planet.

The goal of the TGO is to look for gases in the atmosphere of Mars that may be linked to the evidence of life. This includes methane, which at the moment has an unknown origin on the Martian surface, and could be produced by microbial life.

But the orbiter also has an impressive camera, the Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) developed by the University of Bern. This instrument was used to take that image, with scientists testing how it would perform after some minor software problems.

"We were very pleased to see how good this image was given the lighting conditions," said Antoine Pommerol, a member of the CaSSIS team. "This shows that CaSSIS can make a major contribution to studies of the carbon dioxide and water cycles on Mars," he concluded.

Here is the image:

So, what does the image show? Well, you are seeing a segment of the Korolev crater (which is the ridge in the middle), which is located high in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

The dark shadow you can see is the terminator, the line that divides the day side and the night side of the planet. The lighting angle reveals some rather interesting features, including what appears to be sand dunes on the surface. The bright white regions, however, are ice.

The TGO has four instruments, including the camera, which will be used to "sniff" the planet's atmosphere. Using the camera, it is then expected that gas sources on the surface of Mars can be identified. Until then, we get these awesome images like that. [ IFLS ]

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post