15 years ago, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter left earth.
Since arriving on the red planet, the mars orbiter has reshaped our understanding of the planet. The veteran spacecraft studies temperatures in Mars’ thin atmosphere, peers underground with radar, and detects minerals on the planet’s surface. But perhaps what it’s become best known for are stunning images.
Among its instruments, MRO carries three cameras: The Mars Color Imager (MARCI) has a fisheye lens that produces a daily global view. The Context Camera (CTX) provides 19-mile-wide (30-kilometer-wide) black-and-white terrain shots. Those images, in turn, offer context for the tightly focused images provided by MRO’s third camera, the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), which produces the most striking views, finds a NASA blog.
Able to zoom in on surface features at the highest resolution, the detailed, color images from HiRISE have captured dramatic scenes of nature: tumbling avalanches, skyscraping dust devils, and other features of a changing landscape. The camera has also provided images of other NASA spacecraft at Mars, like the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. MRO has even flipped itself around to point HiRISE out at Earth and Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons.
As of early August, HiRISE alone had taken 6,882,204 images, generating 194 terabytes of data sent from Mars since 2006.
NASA recently shared these images on Twitter.
The images are somewhat rare in how we associate them with the red planet – they’re not really red. The photos show a Mars we’re not used to seeing.
I wish I could go there . Way more peaceful then here on earth
— DVD (@donaldson_dvd) August 12, 2020
Wow beautiful mind-boggling interesting I hope we find what we’re looking for out in space as a human species to know we’re not the only ones actually out here Cindy from Orlando Florida MetroWest
— Cindy crawford (@Cindycr97886584) August 12, 2020
We may or may not be the only ones in the milky way, but we’re certainly appreciating the beauty of the unseen pictures of the planet.