Before there was a cute Rover on the Martian surface, delighting us with pithy commentary on Twitter, we had Mars Express paving the way. Ten years ago, on 14 January 2004, it took its very first images, in color and in 3-D.
To mark the anniversary, the team has produced a fly-through movie of the ancient flood plain Kasei Valles, based on the 67-image mosaic released as part of the ten-years-since-launch celebrations in June 2013. The scene spans 987 km in the north–south direction, 19–36°N, and 1550 km in the east–west direction (280–310°E). It covers 1.55 million square kilometers, an area equivalent to the size of Mongolia.
Kasei Valles is one of the largest outflow channel systems on Mars, created during dramatic flood events. From source to sink, it extends some 3000 km and descends 3 km. Kasei Valles splits into two main branches that hug a broad island of fractured terrain – Sacra Mensa – rising 2 km above the channels that swerve around it. While weaker materials succumbed to the erosive power of the fast-flowing water, this hardier outcrop has stood the test of time.
Copyright ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
Slightly further downstream, the flood waters did their best to erase the 100 km-wide Sharonov crater, crumpling its walls to the south. Around Sharonov many small streamlined islands form teardrop shapes rising from the riverbed as water swept around these natural obstacles.
The Planetary Science and Remote Sensing Group at Freie Universität Berlin produced the movie. The processing of the High Resolution Stereo Camera image data was carried out at the DLR German Aerospace Center.