ESA releases new image of Mars captured by ExoMars TGO

Devdiscourse News Desk | Paris | Updated: 17-01-2022 10:39 IST | Created: 17-01-2022 10:39 IST
ESA releases new image of Mars captured by ExoMars TGO
Image Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a new image of Mars that shows signs of 'geology in motion' on the Red Planet. The image - the first release of 2022 - was captured by the CaSSIS camera onboard the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) on 3 August 2020.

This spectacular image from TGO shows Noctis Labyrinthus, a large valley system at the western end of the Valles Marineris canyon system. It was taken over the easternmost part of Noctis Labyrinthus in the Phoenicis Lacus Quadrangle, near the intersection with Lus Chasma of Valles Marineris – the 'grand canyon' of the Red Planet.

As described by ESA, the cliff-like feature running through the central portion of the image is part of a horst-graben system, which comprises raised ridges and plateaus (horst) either side of sunken valleys (graben) created as a result of tectonic processes that pulled the planet's surface apart. The entire network of plateaus and trenches making up Labyrinthus spans some 1200 km, with individual cliffs reaching 5 km above the surface below.

Zooming in on the picture shows several boulders that have fallen from the cliff edge, leaving small dimples in the soft material as they tumbled down-slope.

The ExoMars TGO is the first in a series of Mars missions to be undertaken jointly by ESA and Roscosmos. Its main objective is to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes on Mars.

The 2022 mission of ExoMars will deliver a European rover, Rosalind Franklin, and a Russian surface platform, Kazachok, to the surface of Mars. The ExoMars rover will travel across the Martian surface to search for signs of life and collect samples with a drill and analyse them with next-generation instruments.

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