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Jason DavisSeptember 10, 2015

Pretty Picture: A Sweeping View of the Martian South Pole

It was a clear, sunny day in the southern Martian highlands last February when the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft flew overhead at about 10,000 kilometers. The twelve-year-old probe panned its high-resolution stereo camera from the south pole up to Hellas Basin, capturing an image of a battered region of the planet. The scene includes four large craters: Huxley, Secchi, Wallace and Tikhov.

ESA scientists assembled this 2584-by-6456-pixel pretty picture by aligning the camera's color data with distinct features on the surface like mountains and dark spots. Here it is:

Mars South Pole from Mars Express

ESA / DLR / FU Berlin

Mars South Pole from Mars Express
This image of the Martian south pole was captured by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft on February 25, 2015, from a height of 9,900 kilometers. Mars Express performed a "broom calibration" maneuver in which its high resolution stereo camera panned over the planet's surface.

And here's an annotated version:

Mars South Pole from Mars Express, Annotated

ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

Mars South Pole from Mars Express, Annotated
This annotated version of a Martian south pole image captured by the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft on February 25, 2015, shows a sweeping view of the planet. Mars' cratered highlands are visible, along with Hellas Basin.

Read more: pretty pictures, Mars Express, Mars

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
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