Mars in December 2003
December 6, 2004
This is how Mars appeared to the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) wide angle system on 25 December 2003, the day that Beagle 2 and Mars Express reached the red planet. The large, dark region just left of center is Syrtis Major, a persistent low albedo terrain known to astronomers for nearly four centuries before the first spacecraft went to Mars. Immediately to the right (east) of Syrtis Major is the somewhat circular plain, Isidis Planitia. Relative to other global images of Mars acquired by MGS over the past several martian years, the surface features were not as sharp and distinct on 25 December 2003 because of considerable haze kicked up by large dust storms in the western and southern hemispheres during the previous two weeks. The high dust opacity impacted MOC's oblique viewing geometry toward the edges of each orbit's daily global mapping image, thus emphasizing the "blurry" zones between images acquired on successive orbits.
Topics: Environment, Mars, Spacecraft, Space exploration, Isidis Planitia, Syrtis Major, Cydonia, Beagle 2, Mars landing, Spaceflight, MGS