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Business News/ Science / News/  20 years of Mars Express! Check out unseen mosaic of red planet

20 years of Mars Express! Check out unseen mosaic of red planet

The European Space Agency has released a new mosaic of Mars, highlighting the planet's colour and composition details using data from the high Resolution Stereo Camera.

Mosaic of Mars planetPremium
Mosaic of Mars planet

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a new mosaic of the planet Mars to mark 20 years of the launch of the Mars Express. The mosaic reveals the red planet's colour and composition details, created using data from high Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).

The HRSC gathered 90 images at higher altitudes (of 4000 to 10,000 km), thus capturing areas of around 2,500 km wide. These images were then put together to form a full global view.

The new view highlights variation across Mars' surface by enhancing local colour and contrast.

The mosaic also provides fascinating information about Mars' composition, revealing an unprecedented variety and detail of colours across Mars's surface.

The red colour of planet Mars is caused by high levels of oxidised iron. However, large parts of the planet appear to be rather dark and blue-toned in the images. According to ESA, the blue-toned marks are grey-black basaltic sands of volcanic origin that form far-reaching, dark layers of sand across Mars. They pile up as they move in the wind, creating imposing sand dunes and dune fields within impact craters.

The two most common water-weathered minerals on Mars, clay and sulphate minerals, appear particularly bright on such colour composites. The presence of these minerals signals that liquid water existed on Mars for a long time, weathering and altering rock over time to form significant clay deposits.

Unlike clay deposits, sulphate minerals indicate more acidic environmental conditions that would be less friendly to life.


Mars Express launched and has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2003 – 20 years ago! The orbiter is imaging Mars’ surface, mapping its minerals, identifying the composition and circulation of its tenuous atmosphere, probing beneath its crust, and exploring how various phenomena interact in the martian environment.

The spacecraft’s HRSC, the camera responsible for these images, has revealed much about Mars’ diverse surface features in the past 20 years. Its images show everything from wind-sculpted ridges and grooves to sinkholes on the flanks of colossal volcanoes to impact craters, tectonic faults, river channels, and ancient lava pools.

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Updated: 04 Jun 2023, 09:55 AM IST
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