NASA shares incredible pictures of Mars captured by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to celebrate its 15th anniversary - Rclipse Blog

NASA shares incredible pictures of Mars captured by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to celebrate its 15th anniversary

On 12 August 2005, NASA launched its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The orbiter has since then sent back about 385 terabits of data and remains active to this day to carry on its mission on Mars.

Sent with the task of studying temperatures of the Martian atmosphere and collecting information about the minerals present on the planet's surface, the MRO has also sent back some breathtaking images. To celebrate 15 years of its launch, NASA posted some of the most astounding pictures taken by the HiRISE camera on the MRO.

A dramatic, fresh impact crater dominates this image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19, 2013. Researchers used HiRISE to examine this site because the orbiter's Context Camera had revealed a change in appearance here between observations in July 2010 and May 2012, bracketing the formation of the crater between those observations. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

While one picture showcases an avalanche in action, another shows a dust devil making its way over the Martian surface. A crater created on Mars and migrating landforms are the subjects of the other pictures.

There are three cameras aboard the orbiter:

  • The Mars Color Imager (MARCI), which is tasked with the duty of capturing a global view daily;
  • The Context Camera (CTX), which provides 30-kilometer-wide black and white terrain shots;
  • The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), which is responsible for capturing "tightly focused images".

These images are then managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

Through the years, HiRISE has captured some "dramatic scenes of nature" like skyscraping dust devils, avalanches and changing landscapes. These were possible due to the extreme zoom-in capability of the camera that manages to capture detailed, high-resolution colour images of Mars. Since 2006, HiRISE has alone sent back 6,882,204 images.

The orbiter has managed to capture the multiple spacecrafts - Spirit, Opportunity as well as the Curiosity rover - trekking and exploring Mars.

According to NASA, when its latest rover Perseverance reaches the Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021, we will be sure to get some close-up shots of the craft via HiRISE.



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