The Martian horizon as imaged by NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft and the THEMIS thermal camera Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU
When astronauts one day make it to Mars, they can enjoy a view of the horizon like the one he revealed NASA.
The new image of the Martian skyline, taken by NASA’s unmanned Odyssey spacecraft in orbit around the red planet. The photo was taken From a similar height of about 400 km With the average altitude of the International Space Station (ISS), here on Earth.
The image is an achievement that took months to coordinate, and scientists say it will allow them to compare Mars to Earth by looking at similar images taken from the International Space Station.
“If there were astronauts in orbit above Mars, this is the view they would have. No Martian spacecraft has ever had this kind of view before,” says astronomer Jonathan Hale of Arizona State University.
The image was captured using Odyssey’s thermal emission imaging system, THEMIS. The main reason it takes so long to adjust is because THEMIS is in a stable position It points directly at Mars from the “belly” of the spacecraft.
This is because Themis Used to map the surface of Mars anyway. To see the Martian horizon, scientists here on Earth had to send commands to tilt the entire Odyssey by 90 degrees, positioning THEMIS toward the edge of the horizon.
They also had to keep the spacecraft in this position throughout the entire orbit so that THEMIS had time to take a series of 10 images that were stitched together to create the panorama.
It was very difficult. In the best position for images, the spacecraft’s antenna will be pointed away from Earth. This means that for hours throughout orbit while THEMIS was taking images, the spacecraft was not in contact with Earth.
However, the result was worth the time and effort. The dry, cratered surface of Mars comes to the fore and we can enjoy the magnificent landscape. From above “floats” The thin and weak atmosphere of Mars, With a small cloud and swirling dust haze.
Because of THEMIS is a thermal camera, Her data can reveal the temperature of her subjects. This can then help in studying the cloud.
Mars has frozen water clouds, like Earth, but it also has frozen clouds of carbon dioxide that form when weather conditions are right. Studying these clouds can give us an idea about how the Martian atmosphere works.
While pointing towards the horizon, THEMIS also accidentally captured Mars’ potato-shaped moon. the fear. Phobos orbits Mars for 7.65 hours, and scientists don’t know where it came from. That is, if it was a passing asteroid that fell into Mars’ gravitational field or was once part of the planet.
Any information we receive regarding Small moon It is a piece of data that scientists can use to investigate this mystery.
Now that Odyssey has demonstrated its ability to do this, researchers hope to take more images of the Martian horizon during different times of the year to see how the atmosphere changes with the seasons. So maybe we’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Mars’ green night glow.
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