From European Space Agency via Manu: ” From horizon to horizon, the Tharsis region.”

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Manu Garcia, a friend from IAC.

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2.9.18
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Fifteen years of Mars Express at Mars.

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Artist impression of Mars Express. The image is based on a real image of Mars taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera spacecraft. Credit: ESA / Medialab ATG; Mars: ESA / DLR / FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO .

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DLR HRSC – High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA Mars Express

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Mars from horizon to horizon.

15 years ago, the Mars Express probe was launched ESA in order to investigate the Red Planet. To commemorate the date, here we have a spectacular view of Mars showing us, from horizon to horizon, one of the most enigmatic regions of the planet.

Mars Express took off from Baikonur (Kazakhstan) A June 2, 2003 toward his journey exploring our neighboring planet. In these 15 years, it has become one of the most successful missions ever sent to Mars, as evidenced by this striking image of the Tharsis region.

With giant volcanoes, deep canyons and fractured terrain, Tharsis is geologically one of the most interesting and explored the planet ‘s surface areas. In the past it was a very active area with volcanism and tectonic movements, so here we find most large volcanoes on the planet, the largest in the solar system.

This view, captured by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Mars Express in October 2017, shows the region in all its splendor.

It extends from the upper horizon of the planet, marked by the blueness of the end of the image, through a network of pale fissures called Noctis Labyrinthus (a part of Valles Marineris extending to the upper left corner of the image), Ascraeus Mons and Pavonis Mons (two of the four great volcanoes of Tharsis, with over 20 km high) to reach the northern polar cap of the planet, in this view, is in the lower left.

Located next to the Martian Ecuador, Tharsis occupies about a quarter of the planet’s surface and is believed played an important role in its history. Across the boundary between the southern highlands and the northern lowlands.

Mars elevation is defined relative to where gravity is equal to the average in the Mars Ecuador. Thus, it is used as a ‘sea level’, although there is no seas as such.

Most of the Tharsis region is above average, at an altitude of between 2 and 10 km. It is likely that the province be formed as columns of molten rock (magma) as mushroom were spread under the slimy surface, creating flows filtration, magma chambers and large rock regions as Tharsis, and contributing to volcanism from inside .

Tharsis is also related to the formation of the famous Valles Marineris, which is about four times longer and deeper than the Grand Canyon (United States) and is the system discovered longest canyons in the Solar System. It can be seen forming part dark branches on the top left of the image.

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Location of the Tharsis region on Mars. This map is based on data from the mission
Viking NASA. Mars shows the portion captured by Stereo Camera
High Resolution aboard the Mars Express spacecraft ESA to celebrate the 15th
anniversary of the mission: the intriguing and active old province of Tharsis. This
labeled view extensive canyon system Valles Marineris is included, the system
type seamless network comprising Noctis Labyrinthus, four volcanoes and the cap
polar north. This map was created by the Planetary Sciences Group and Remote
Sensing at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
Credit: NASA / Viking, FU Berlin.

As the magma filled the basement of the Tharsis region, the tension caused certain areas and fracturasen be broken. Then the molten rock filled these fractures and destabilized and separated even more certain regions of the cortex, causing pits and wide cracks we see today in Valles Marineris and the intricate network of Noctis Labyrinthus, located at the western end canyon system.

The new view shows volcanoes Pavonis Mons (top right), Ascraeus Mons (just below), Alba Mons (to the lower left corner) and a small fragment of Olympus Mons (at the bottom right, which continues offscreen) in brown tones; Here you can view a labeled view of the region. The location of this section of the Martian surface is also shown in a context map the planet and a topographical map.

The latter view shows the highest and lowest in blue and green tones red areas, illustrating the difference in altitude between the north and south of Mars.

Mars Express has 15 years showing the beauty and variety of Mars, and is still strong.

This map is based on data context of the experiment Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) aboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission of NASA. Mars shows the portion captured by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board Mars Express spacecraft ESA to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the mission: the intriguing and active old province of Tharsis.

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Topography of the Tharsis region on Mars.
Credit: NASA Science Team / MGS / MOLA, FU Berlin.

Included in this labeled view is the extensive system of canyons of Valles Marineris, the fissure system in a network comprising Noctis Labyrinthus, two of the four volcanoes north pole and called Martian dichotomy: the altitude difference between north and the southern regions of Mars. The areas higher red are shown in orange shades, while the lower are shown in blue-green (as indicated by the scale at the bottom left).

This map was created by the Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing Group at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

In addition to countless views as spectacular as this, the probe has produced global maps of geological activity, water, volcanism and minerals on the planet and has provided sufficient data to generate thousands of three-dimensional images of the surface. He studied volcanoes, canyons, icy poles and ancient impact craters; He has studied the ground radar; He has explored Mars atmosphere, detecting signs of ozone and methane ephemeral cloud layers and powerful dust storms. The ship has seen escaping charged particles into space and examined the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. It has successfully identified dry river valleys, the remains of buried glaciers and catastrophic floods.

The last 15 years of observations of Mars Express have contributed significantly to the new image of Mars as living in the past, with warmer and wetter periods that could have acted as an oasis for life on Mars planet. These findings have laid the foundations for missions detecting signs of life on the planet, as the two ExoMars missions of ESA and Roscosmos program.

Meanwhile, aboard Mars Express, an innovative software update just ‘rejuvenate’ the ship.

Once successfully activated the new software loaded on the ship on April 16 and passed the flight tests later, Mars Express science operations resumed on April 27. This software, developed by ESA, it was necessary to offset the potential wear age of six satellite gyroscopes, which measure how Mars Express tour on any of its three axes. Since 16 May, the ship is operating with virtually off gyroscopes. The precise adjustment of the new software will take place in the coming months.

This implementation is an important operational milestone for the mission, because it extends the life of Mars Express, possibly until the mid-2020s.

See the full article here .


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The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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