ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, through its CaSSIS instrument, has captured mind-blowing and stunning Martian images over the past 4 years 9 months it has been in operation.
It’s only part way through the mission, with Martian images in brilliant detail expected to be sent back for a full 7 years.
The Trace Gas Orbiter, as the name suggests, is primarily focused upon detecting various gases on Mars in trace amounts, identifying what gases there are and in what amounts and also looking for any tell-tale gas signatures that might suggest life.
However another benefit of the mission is the incredible Martian images it is sending back to ESA. From vast craters, to huge peaks and mountains, extreme terrain and conditions to the most beautiful Martian landscapes.
Here's just some of the stunning Martian images:
A crater in Tempe Terra
The orbiter revealed a 44 Kilometre-diameter crater within Tempe Terra.
This incredible crater displayed inverted topography, which are regions where channels were then filled with sediment over long periods of time and became more resistant to erosion than the surrounding rock after lithification.
The erosion process then leaves the original depressions and channels standing as a stark and beautiful monument to time.
Noachian Highlands of Terra Sirenum
The orbiter revealed the beauty of Noachian Highlands of Terra Sirenum, which contains aluminum phyllosilicate deposits that were detected using sensitive equipment and Spectro analysis. It is believed that this layered material can answer some key questions about the Geology of Mars.
The Hydraspis Chaos is a remarkbly smooth topped chaotic terrain in the Southern Cicum-chryse of Mars.
These high terrains have been suggested as a large source of floodwaters which have carved out many parts of large outflow channels seen across parts of Mars.
Hesperia Planum is a broad lava plain located in the Southern hemisphere of Mars. It contains several impact craters and large wrinkle ridges and houses one of the largest volcanos in the solar system, Tyrrhena Mons.
Lava flows in the Cerberus Region.
Incredible images of lava flows from the Cerberus region of Mars, a large dark spot named after Cerberus, from Greek mythology; a multi-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hades. The name may have been chosen because the environment appears so inhospitable.
This is a large region of Mars covering 3300 km and located on the eastern side of the Hellas Basin. It is a heavily cratered region; whose original name was derived from the Greek God Prometheus. It is located within the Hellas Quadrangle of Mars
NASA exploration program revealed a part of the Eastern side of Terra Cimmeria. It shows a region of hills, part of the Sirenum Fossae, a stretch of linear erosion, and an extended region of hills. It is one of the images of Mars that is quite well known.
Finally we have Oxia Planum, which was the site chosen as the landing area of the ExoMars Rover. It has an elevation of around 3000m below the Martian mean.
The site was chosen for a range of reasons including the multitude of rocky valleys and clay areas that indicate water was involved in the formation and covered the area extensively at some point in the past.
Additionally, it is an excellent location to begin a search for the further presence of bio-signatures which would indicate the presence of life. It doesn’t hurt that we get to enjoy the incredible views while this important mission is carried out.