The european Mars Express mission, which was launched on 2 June 2003, is providing important new data on the geology, mineralogy and atmosphere of Mars. Mars Express is giving us information about the history of the Red Planet’s climate and explaining the role and whereabouts of water on the planet. Thanks to the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) developed in DLR's Institute of Planetary Research, Mars is being mapped in three dimensions and colour for the first time.
The Mars Express HRSC images are now published under a Creative Commons licence: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
A wealth of information about Mars, its surface, subsurface and atmosphere has led to a completely new view of the Red Planet.
Sand, dust and rocks of different colours cover extensive areas of the Terra Cimmeria highland region, one of the oldest landscapes on Mars. The variations in colour are due to differences in the mineralogy as well as the texture of the surface material and are typical of the ancient Mars highlands.
ESA's Mars Express spacecraft has been observing local and regional dust storms forming at the north pole of the Red Planet over the last month, and watching as they disperse towards the equator. Local and regional storms lasting a few days or weeks and confined to a small area are commonplace on Mars, but at their most severe they can cover the entire planet, as happened last year during a global storm that encircled the planet for many months.
At first glance, it looks like brown crocodile skin photographed at close range, but these images actually show the rough, rugged terrain of Aurorae Chaos. The data used to create the images were acquired by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), a camera system developed at DLR and built in collaboration with Germany industry. It is carried on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since 2003.