Mars Express gives 3D view of the surface of the Red Planet

The German space agency DLR provides a video tour of the Mars surface created with the high resolution imagery produced during ten years of operation so far by the ESA Mars Express spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet: On board Mars Express, in orbit around the Red Planet – DLR.

The 3D view of the valleys, canyons and lava flows is possible because of the unusual imaging principle used by the camera. Nine light-sensitive detectors sweep the surface in sequence from nine different observation angles. This data is then processed into three-dimensional images by the DLR planetary researchers. “We can see the entire topography almost as well as if we were standing on Mars ourselves,” says Jaumann. What is the angle of inclination of a slope? How thick is that lava layer? Using the images from the Mars Express camera, the scientists have been able to determine, for example, that volcanism on Mars was still occurring relatively recently. Some of the shield volcanoes in the Tharsis region of Mars were still active a few million years ago. In geological terms, that is still in the planet’s recent past. Even today, the volcanoes may just be taking a break from this former activity.

From the caption:

From the highest volcano to the deepest canyon, from impact craters to ancient river beds and lava flows, this showcase of images from ESA’s Mars Express takes you on an unforgettable journey across the Red Planet.

Mars Express was launched on 2 June 2003 and arrived at Mars six-and-a-half months later. It has since orbited the planet nearly 12 500 times, providing scientists with unprecedented images and data collected by its suite of scientific instruments.

The data have been used to create an almost global digital topographic model of the surface, providing a unique visualisation and enabling researchers to acquire new and surprising information about the evolution of the Red Planet.

The images in this movie were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera and the video was released by the DLR German Aerospace Center as part of the ten years of Mars Express celebrations in June 2013. The music has been created by Stephan Elgner of DLR’s Mars Express planetary cartography team. DLR developed and is operating the stereo camera.