The mission of the European spacecraft Trace Gas Orbiter is to learn more about the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere. But in addition, he got a new powerful camera.
Scientists have received the first enticing guesswork of what to expect from the newest satellite Mars (Trace Gas Orbiter - TGO), when it starts to work in a year.
During the first close passage of Mars, including the fixing in orbit on October 19, the European TGO spacecraft managed to make 11 images using the CaSSIS camera (Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System - Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System). Pictures received on November 22 and published on Tuesday. They were designed to test different camera modes. This was the European Space Agency (ESA) reported in a press release.
When approaching, TGO was located 146 miles (235 km) above the territory of Hebes Chasma, located north of the Mariner canyons.
“These are some of the closest shots that will ever be taken by TGO. After all, the final orbit of the spacecraft will remain at an altitude of 400 km (249 miles), ”the ESA reported.
The first 3D reconstruction of a small area in the Labyrinth of the Night area. Resolution: less than 20 meters per pixel.
“The very first frames received were spectacular, although we were only testing the device,” said physicist Nicolas Thomas of the University of Bern, who built the camera.
Images of Hebes Chasma, taken in the proportion of 2.8 meters per pixel, are like “fly over Bern at an altitude of 15,000 km per hour (9320 miles per hour) and simultaneously photograph cars in Zurich,” said Thomas.
TGO will spend about a year to slow down through the thin atmosphere of the Red Planet, and reduce its speed. He needs to move to a circular, almost polar, orbit.
CaSSIS is one of four scientific instruments on the satellite that ESA built in partnership with Russia. The main goal of the mission is inventory of rare gases in the atmosphere of Mars. Particular attention is paid to methane, which on Earth is tied to the origin of life.