Mars probe sends back first photos of ice-covered crater
New photos beamed down from Mars show the planet in a fantastic new light.
The images of the icy rim of the Korolev crater were snapped by the European Space Agency’s ExoMars orbiter, which has been living on the Red Planet since 2016.
The first color images sent back by the probe capture a 24-mile-long segment of the crater located high in the northern hemisphere.
Using the three photos that were snapped simultaneously, the ESA assembled the composite pic to illustrate the different colors of Mars.
The orbiter’s high-tech camera, which was only activated last month, took the jaw-dropping image showing part of an impact crater.
These kinds of bird’s-eye photos of Mars’ water and carbon dioxide cycles can help scientists to grasp what is going on with the planet’s geology.
“We were really pleased to see how good this picture was given the lighting conditions,” said Antoine Pommerol, a member of the ESA team.
“It shows that [the orbiter’s Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System] can make a major contribution to studies of the carbon dioxide and water cycles on Mars.”
We’d previously seen the orbiter’s black and white images, but these latest photos deliver on the Esa’s promise to show “something colorful.”
The satellite’s ultimate mission is to sniff out gasses like methane that might give hints of biology on Mars, while its camera will send back visuals to help identify geological processes occurring on the Martian surface.
Impressively, scientists more than 62 million miles away on Earth recently gave the probe’s snapper a software update.
The ExoMars mission also included a lander called Schiaparelli, which crashed in October 2016 while attempting to touch down.
Part two of the project will involve a rover and a surface science platform launching in 2020.
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