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Emily LakdawallaOctober 7, 2014

New global Mars image from Mars Orbiter Mission features Gale crater

ISRO has released a second global image of Mars from the Mars Colour Camera on Mars Orbiter Mission, and just below the center of it is Gale crater, home to Curiosity. Gale is easy to spot from its very dark floor forming two horns that cradle Gale's central mountain, and the dark streak that runs out of the crater toward Terra Cimmeria to the south. Gusev crater, and the silent Spirit rover, are also in the photo -- look at the context map below to help you pick it out.

Mars from Mars Orbiter Mission, with Elysium and Gale

ISRO

Mars from Mars Orbiter Mission, with Elysium and Gale
Mars Orbiter Mission captured this view of Mars from a distance of 66,543 kilometers. The view includes the large Elysium volcanic region on Mars, and the dark swath of Terra Cimmeria across the disk to the south. Near the center of the disk is a small crater that has a large dark streak running down from it: that is Gale, home to Curiosity.

Here's a screen cap from the Mars Globe app to help you find your way around the image. The global view doesn't look quite the same because Mars Globe is simulating the view from significantly closer -- about 7000 kilometers away -- so there are features that disappear around the edges of the disk on the Mars Globe simulation that are visible on the disk in the much more distant Mars Orbiter Mission photo. (In particular, in the photo above you can see the great shield of Olympus Mons right at the edge of the disk at upper right, but it's not visible in the map below because the viewpoint is too close.)

Mars from Mars Orbiter Mission, with Elysium and Gale (context map)

Mars Globe / Michael Howard

Mars from Mars Orbiter Mission, with Elysium and Gale (context map)
Screen capture from the Mars Globe App.

This newly released global view of Mars is distinctly less red than the first one that came out of the mission a week ago. When a spacecraft first turns on its instruments, it may take a while to get the calibration right. It's been interesting to watch space enthusiasts on the Internet fiddle with the color in the first image in order to produce something that looks more pleasing to them. Most people agree that the original was too red (or, more precisely, that the blue channel was far too dark), but different people have produced different results based upon their judgment of what Mars should look like. Here are eight slightly different views of that one image of Mars:

Eight takes on a global view of Mars
Eight takes on a global view of Mars
The first global image of Mars released by the Mars Orbiter Mission is at lower right. Most space fans thought it looked too red, and processed it to produce a more pleasing-looking Mars. The seven views shown here were processed by (top row, left to right): Björn Jónsson, Don Davis, Elisabetta Bonora and Marco Faccin, and Fred Calef; (bottom row, left to right): Judy Schmidt, Olivier de Goursac, and Ted Stryk.

I assume we'll be seeing some nicely processed versions of the new photo from the amateur community -- I'll post one here when I see one I like!

Read more: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), pretty pictures, Mars

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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Emily Lakdwalla
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