Nearly 10 years ago, the Mars Express orbiter arrived at its destination in orbit above Mars on Christmas Day, 2003. Since then, it has orbited the planet 12,000 times, giving us an unprecedented view of the red planet.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the orbiter launch, the European Space Agency released a 3D-video tour of the surface of Mars back in May. They just posted the video to Youtube a few days ago, which is when we found it.
The video is the result of 10 years of 3-D imaging and photographing using the spacecraft’s High Resolution Stereo Camera. The scientists at the the German Aerospace Center then assembled the images like a jigsaw puzzle to create a nearly complete global map of the planet.
To give you an idea of how much surface has been covered: The surface of Mars is 56 million square miles; 37.5 million have been covered at high resolution (where one pixel equals about 65 feet per side) and nearly the entire surface has been imaged at a lower resolution where one pixel is equal to 325 feet per side.
Here are a few of the choice landmarks at Mars (so when Elon Musk finally takes you on that trip to Mars, you know what you are looking at):
2:57 – This is Valles Marineris, the largest crevice in the solar system. At about 2,500 miles long, it extends across 1/5 of the entire Martian equator and would stretch from San Francisco to New York, if superimposed on the Earth.
1:07 – This is Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system. At 16.7 miles in height, it is nearly three times as tall as Mount Everest.
1:13 – This is the summit caldera of Olympus Mons. It is 50 miles wide and up to two miles deep.
2:25 – This is one of Mars’ many large impact craters. This one in particular is almost 50 miles long, 6 miles wide at one end and 15.5 miles wide at the other.
Here’s the full video:
Oddly, NASA just released a very similar set of images and video created by data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a satellite that has been orbiting Mars since 2006.
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