In the Tharsis volcanic region, almost the size of Europe, the Martian highlands have arched up into a shield several thousand metres in height as a consequence of volcanic processes. Quite a few unusual topographic features can be observed there.
Ius Chasma is one of the main graben in Valles Marineris, one of the largest known canyon systems in the Solar System. Over a length of 940 kilometres, Ius Chasma forms the northern boundary between the western half of this enormous valley system and the Martian highlands.
Amateur astronomers who on occasion observe Mars through the eyepiece of their telescopes are quite familiar with the region of Syrtis Major; when observing conditions are good, it can be easily identified as a dark spot on Mars.
Tempe Terra is located at the northeastern edge of the Tharsis volcanic region and forms the transition zone between the southern highlands and the northern lowlands.
Phlegra Montes is a mountainous massif on Mars that extends for several hundreds of kilometres from the northeastern part of the Elysium volcanic region (between 30 and 50 degrees north) to deep into the northern lowlands.
On 8 November at 21:16 CET (02:16 on 9 November, local time) the Russian Phobos-Grunt (Phobos Soil) spacecraft began its journey to Mars on board a Zenit-2 rocket that lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The volcanoes on Mars are true giants. As well as being home to the largest volcano in our Solar System, the 24-kilometre-high Olympus Mons, and its three neighbouring shield volcanoes Arsia, Pavonis and Ascraeus, there are a number of less-frequently observed volcano complexes on the Tharsis bulge near the Martian equator that also reach impressive heights. With a base measuring 155 by 125 kilometres, the 8000-metre Tharsis Tholus may only be a ‘mid-range’ volcano, but when measured against terrestrial standards, this volcano is truly gigantic. The High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) operated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft acquired images of Tharsis Tholus over the course of several orbits, which have been combined to form a mosaic image with a resolution of 14 metres per pixel. The images show an area located at 13 degrees north and 268 degrees east.
The Ares Vallis outflow channel meanders for more than 1700 kilometres across the southern highlands of Mars and ends in a 100-kilometre-wide delta-like region in the lowlands of Chryse Planitia. On 11 May 2011, parts of the Ares Vallis channel were photographed using the High Resolution Stereo Camera operated by the German Aerospace Center on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.
The final contenders in NASA’s Discovery programme, which invites scientists to propose unmanned planetary missions, have been announced. The Geophysical Monitoring Station (GEMS) for Mars mission proposal has made it to the final and decisive round of decision-making. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is significantly involved with a geophysical experiment aimed at investigating the interior of Mars. The aim of the mission, which may launch in early 2016, is to obtain our first ever impression of the 'interior life' of Mars through a series of direct measurements.
During the last of a series of eight encounters with the martian moon Phobos, the DLR-operated High-Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA's Mars Express spacecraft acquired a detailed view of the martian satellite. The orbiter flew past Phobos at a distance of only 100 kilometres on 9 January 2011 and imaged the southern hemisphere of the irregularly-shaped moon. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) planned the image acquisition and processed the resulting data.
Like a scanner in orbit, the High Resolution Stereo Camera on the European Mars Express spacecraft has been imaging the surface of the Red Planet since 10 January 2004, spotting volcanoes, trenches, wrinkle ridges and impact craters. But before we can view the surface of Mars in 3D, the photos have to be sequenced, the data has to be checked, and only then can viewable imagery be generated. This is something that the researchers at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research and the Free University of Berlin have been doing for the last seven years.