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Mars image bounty
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    Dust devil frenzy
    Dust devil frenzy

    This remarkable image was taken in the Terra Sabaea region of Mars, west of Augakuh Vallis, by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. This mysterious pattern sits on the crest of a ridge, and is thought to be the result of dust devil activity – essentially the convergence of hundreds or maybe even thousands of smaller martian tornadoes.

    This image is a colour-composite representation where features that are bluer compared to the average colour of Mars are shown in bright blue hues. In actual colour, the streaks would appear dark red. Dust devils churn up the surface material, exposing fresher material below.

    The reason why the streaks are so concentrated on the ridges is not known at present, but a relationship to orographic lift as masses of carbon dioxide air flow uphill and converge with other air masses is one possibility.

    The image was taken on 8 February 2019 and is centred at 26.36ºN/56.96ºE. North is up.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Banded terrain
    Banded terrain

    This image captures a landform on Mars peculiar to the Hellas Basin, sometimes referred to as ‘banded terrain’. The pictured area belongs to the western part of the basin, which contains the lowest lying surfaces on Mars – up to 7 km below the defined zero level.

    The terrain gives the impression that bands of material are flowing downhill. There is some evidence that the bands are ice-rich, but interpretations have not yet reached an agreement. In addition to the banded terrain seen at lower left and upper right in this orientation, some dust erosion in the form of dark streaks is also evident.

    The image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 12 December 2018. It is centred at 39.04ºS/53.9ºE.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Salty sulphates
    Salty sulphates

    This image covers a portion of the wall-terrace region of the 100 km-wide Columbus Crater located within Terra Sirenum in the southern hemisphere of Mars. The image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 15 January 2019.

    Layered rocks that appear in light-tones are found extensively on the northern crater walls, terraces and floor. These rocks have subsequently been eroded to expose successive layers in cross-section.

    The CRISM spectrometer onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has already revealed that these layers contain various hydrated minerals, such as sulphate salts that appear to cover the white-coloured rocks. The beige-coloured layered rocks, consistent with a sulphate salt signature, appear to line the crater wall, reminiscent of a high water mark.

    These ‘bathtub rings’ are consistent with deposits formed by lakes that start to dry up and, through evaporation, begin to deposit specific minerals turn by turn. As the water evaporates, the minerals that are the least readily dissolved in water will begin to precipitate out of the dwindling solution.

    The relatively small 1.6 km-wide impact crater towards the top of the image appears to have a small amount of white-coloured bedrock exposed in its wall, which CRISM indicates is aluminous clay-bearing material. This suggests that the clay-bearing rocks are older than the sulphate salts that occupy the central portion of this image section.

    Sites like these could have once offered conditions suitable for life.

    The image is centred at 28.79ºS/193.84ºE. North is up.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    ExoMars images InSight
    ExoMars images InSight

    The image shows a panchromatic channel image of the InSight landing site on Mars, acquired by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) instrument onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 2 March 2019. The image shows an area of about 2.25 km x 2.25 km in the Elysium Planitia region. The positions of the InSight lander itself, the blast marks from the retro rockets used during landing, the heatshield and the backshell of the entry descent and landing system are marked.

    It is the first time a European instrument has identified a lander and related equipment on the Red Planet.

    The original image had a scale of about 4.5 m per pixel, and has been expanded to 2.25 m/pixel for display purposes. 

    The images are also available separately; click here for the labelled version and here for the unlabelled version.

     More information

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    South polar layered terrains
    South polar layered terrains

    This image shows the edge of a layered mound in Burroughs crater on Mars. It is located about 200 km to the northwest of the northernmost edge of the planet’s south polar ice cap.

    The image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and captures a strip of the surface measuring about 25 km x 9 km.

    The ‘polar layered deposits’ of Mars, as the ice caps are known, are made of layers upon layers of ice and dust that record how the climate of Mars has evolved in the last few million to hundreds of millions of years.

    Many of the impact craters that surround the caps have layered mounds that appear similar to the polar layered deposits, and some, particularly in the north, are known to be composed of nearly pure water ice. Layered mounds, like the one imaged here in Burroughs crater, lie close to the south polar deposits, and have been less studied than the layers of the caps.

    They may represent remnant ice deposits from past climates when the extent of the polar layered deposits reached to lower latitudes, or they may have been deposited independently, which would mean that they represent an entirely separate record of climate – perhaps extending further back into the history of the Mars.

    This particular image shows heavily eroded layers toward the northwestern edge of the Burroughs crater mound (north is up). In this orientation, the top of the image contains the crater wall outside of the mound, which is about 400 km lower in elevation than the bottom of the image and shows the mound’s surface.

    Because the CaSSIS instrument takes stereo pairs of images, the elevation differences – also between the layers – can be studied with the resulting digital terrain model.

    The image was taken on 16 December 2018 and is centred at 71.8ºS/114.5ºE.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Crater floor
    Crater floor

    The subtle tints seen in this colour-composite image of the floor of Kibuye crater on Mars, in the region of Terra Sirenum, highlight the rich variety of mineralogical composition found in these rocks.

    The image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 15 December 2018. Chloride salt and clay minerals have been identified here from orbit in the past by infrared spectrometers. CaSSIS colour-composite images processed like this one allow scientists to refine the mapping of Mars mineralogy at higher spatial scales. In this region, for example, there is strong evidence for sustained weathering of the rocks by water and possible ancient lakes.

    Such colour-composite images illustrate the extraordinary sensitivity of CaSSIS to the mineralogical composition of the rocks.

    The image is centred at 29.1°S/178.2°E.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    A well-preserved crater
    A well-preserved crater

    This image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 18 November 2018. Just above centre is a well-preserved 4 km-wide crater. This slice of Mars sits just to the northeast of largest well-preserved impact basin on Mars, Hellas, in the planet’s southern highlands.

    The colour capability of CaSSIS reveals exposures of light-toned bedrock in this colour-composite view. The light-toned bedrock, observed extensively throughout the region, may be associated with the formation of some of the most ancient rocks of the Hellas basin – between 3.7 and 4.1 billion years ago. Many exposures of this terrain show evidence of being altered chemically by water, with phyllosilicate clays being one of the most common minerals formed during this early period of martian history.

    The image is centred at 28.36ºS/79.75ºE. North is up.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Mineral diversity
    Mineral diversity

    This colourful image of terrain south of the Mawrth Vallis outflow channel on Mars shows the diversity of mineralogical compositions found in this region.

    The image was taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 5 January 2019 and is shown as a colour-composite that has been processed to better highlight the different compositions.

    Mawrth Vallis is an outflow channel dissecting the ancient cratered highlands of Mars and leading into the low-lying plains of the northern hemisphere. Some of the bedrock exposed in the sides of the main outflow channel in this view belongs to the most ancient rocks found at the surface of Mars and displays evidence for strong and sustained water activity in the past. Clay minerals are particularly abundant here and provide important clues about the interaction between rock and water on the Red Planet.

    The image is centred at 21.6°N/341.7°E. North is up.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Layered depressions – 3D
    Layered depressions – 3D

    Use red-blue stereo ‘3D’ glasses to best enjoy this view of circular depressions in the southern hemisphere of Mars, exposing layered outcrops in the northern rim of the large Hellas basin

    The geology of the Hellas basin is complex with ancient terrains showing evidences of erosion and sedimentary processes, which might be linked to past water activity. Both the shapes of the features revealed by stereo imaging and the mineralogical composition of the finely layered outcrops are key for understanding their formation processes. CaSSIS colour-composite images like these, combined with data from other instruments, help map variations in composition of the surface material.

    The image was created from a stereo pair taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 22 December 2018. The image is aligned from left to right along the ground-track of the spacecraft, and is centred at 29.2ºS/66.8ºE.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Draped dunes – 3D
    Draped dunes – 3D

    Use red-blue stereo ‘3D’ glasses to best enjoy this view of dust dunes cascading over the edge of Green Crater, in the Noachis Terra region of Mars.

    Dunes on Mars are dynamic features, observed to move at speeds of up to 5 m per martian year. Dust devil streaks –blue in this colour-composite representation – are seen on the interior wall of the crater. The different colours indicate the range of surface composition both inside and outside the crater.

    The image was created from a stereo pair taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 10 December 2018. The image is aligned from left to right along the ground-track of the spacecraft. It is centred at 59.92ºS/351.66ºE and measures about 7 km on the short side.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Jezero Crater neighbourhood – 3D
    Jezero Crater neighbourhood – 3D

    A portion of a crater (left) and rough terrain outside the crater at the boundary between the Syrtis and Isidis regions of Mars, south of the landing site foreseen for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover in Jezero Crater.

    Use red-blue stereo ‘3D’ glasses to best enjoy this view. It was created from a stereo pair taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 29 December 2018. The image is centred at 20.73ºN/79.27ºE and measures about 7 km on the short side.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Brain terrain – 3D
    Brain terrain – 3D

    This image features a 4 km-wide impact crater that formed on the rim of an older 15 km-wide crater on Mars. The linear ridge to the top of the image is the rim of the older crater, which itself intersects the rim of an even larger, 40 km-wide crater.

    To the left of the image, so-called ‘brain coral terrain’ is visible – so-named because of its likeness in appearance to the ridges on the surface of the human brain. It appears to sit on the floor of the largest crater, although this deposit may be related to the lineated fill that lines the floor of the 15-km crater to the right of the image. Both types of terrain are associated with ice-rich material found near the boundary between Mars’ northern plains and its southern highlands.

    Information held in images like these – best viewed with red-blue ‘3D’ glasses to give the impression of depth – help scientists make a detailed study of the order in which the many interacting layers were formed, thus piecing together the history of complex regions.

    The image was created from a stereo pair taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 7 February 2019. It is centred at 32.9 ºN/13.7ºE.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
    Rocky islands – 3D
    Rocky islands – 3D

    This image shows a part of Tithonium Chasma, on the western side of the Vallis Marineris region – also known as the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Mars. The observed area is part of the Western Tithonium Dome. Rocky outcrops are seen at different elevations – best seen when viewed through red-blue stereo ‘3D’ glasses. The structures have been interpreted as the result of erosion – perhaps by flowing water. Bluer hues indicate dust.

    The image was created from a stereo pair taken by the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) onboard the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter on 5 February 2019.

    Credits: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

    Mars image bounty

    Showcase of the ExoMars orbiter’s imaging capabilities