ESA’s Mars Express has imaged an interesting part of the Martian landscape, a region at the boundary of the northern and southern hemisphere which is rocky and fragmented.
ESA’s Mars Express has shown where flowing wind, water and ice carved out distinctive landforms on the Martian landscape.
ESA’s Mars Express
The European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express was launched in 2003.
During the past fifteen years of Mars Express, the following achievements have been made:
- The production of global maps tracing the geologic activity, water, volcanism, and minerals on mars;
- Thousands of 3D images of the surface of Mars;
- Found signs of ozone, methane, mighty dust storms, and fleeting cloud layers;
- Witnessing charged particles escaping to space; and
- Examining the Mars moons Phobos and Deimos.
ESA said: “On 2 June 2003, the Mars Express spacecraft lifted off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on a journey to explore our red-hued neighbouring planet. In the 15 years since, it has become one of the most successful missions ever sent to Mars…The past 15 years of observations from Mars Express have significantly contributed to the newly emerging picture of Mars as a once-habitable planet, with warmer and wetter epochs that may have once acted as oases for ancient Martian life. ”
The Martian landscape
Specifically, the Mars Express has shown a furrowed, rock-filled escarpment known as Nili Fossae. According to the ESA: “Nili Fossae is filled with rocky valleys, small hills, and clusters of flat-topped landforms (known as mesas in geological terms), with some chunks of crustal rock appearing to be depressed down into the surface creating a number of ditch-like features known as graben.”
On Mars’ surface, wind moves sand and dust around frequently, creating rippling dune fields across the planet. The structures seen on the Martian landscape in these images have been shaped over time by flows of water and ice, as well as wind.