The ExoMars Orbiter which is jointly operated by European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos has recently sent back a stunning image of a Martian crater.
The photo, which shows the rim of the Korolev crater in great detail, is one of the first color images the robotic orbiter has sent so far. ESA explained that the image recently made public is a composite picture of three separate photos taken on April 15.
ExoMars reached Mars’ orbit in late 2016. The spacecraft is equipped with a high-precision camera called the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS). Researchers are now calibrating the camera in an effort to prepare the orbiter for its first real mission.
Until now, the orbiter has beamed back only black and white pictures of the Red Planet’s surface. In late 2016, lead investigator Nicolas Thomas told the press that the team had to wait for “something colorful” to come into ExoMars’ view.
ExoMars Orbiter’s Camera Prepping for First Scientific Mission
The crater rim is that “something colorful” Thomas was talking about. The research team explained that the light-colored areas are patches of ice. The full image can be accessed on ESA’s official website.
ExoMars is also equipped with a tool called the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which main role is to take samples of the rare gases in the Martian atmosphere. The TGO can also identify and catalog the samples.
By the end of the month, the CaSSIS camera is expected to start snapping high-resolution photos of the planet’s surface to help scientists detect the local geologic processes. Thomas announced that the camera’s software was updated from over 100 million kilometers and the update is functional.
ExoMars was supposed to bring Schiaparelli, a robotic rover, to Mars. The rover was destroyed in a failed touchdown in October 2016.
Image Source: Flickr