The European Space Agency’s new Mars orbiter just snapped its very first photo, and it’s gorgeous


The European Space Agency’s fancy new Mars orbiter only arrived at the Red Planet a few weeks ago, but it’s already delivering some really fantastic eye candy of the Martian surface. The Trace Gas Orbiter (or TGO for short) is currently orbiting the planet at an altitude of just 250 miles, which means it has a great view of the planet’s surface, and it’s just delivered its very first photo to its handlers back on Earth.

The photo shows the frosty edges of the Korolev Crater on the north of Mars. The image was captured using the Color & Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) tool, and while this first photo was merely a test of the system to ensure that it’s functioning properly, it’s already generating a lot of excitement amongst researchers.

“We were really pleased to see how good this picture was given the lighting conditions,” Antoine Pommerol, a member of the CaSSIS science team, explained in a statement. “It shows that CaSSIS can make a major contribution to studies of the carbon dioxide and water cycles on Mars.”

The full image is much larger than the one you see above, and it’s incredibly long and narrow. You can check out the full resolution here, but the icy crater is obviously the star of this particular shot. – READ MORE

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