Jason DavisSep 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
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. ESA / DLR / FU Berlin

And here's an annotated version:

Mars South Pole from Mars Express, Annotated
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. ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

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