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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT

Full Orbit: How Astronauts Will View Mars From Orbit

August 24, 2012

This movie was generated from 600 individual still images captured by the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) on board Mars Express during the 8194th orbit on 27 May 2010 between 02:00 and 09:00 UTC (04:00-11:00 CEST) and were transmitted to Earth a few hours later via ESA’s 35m New Norcia deep space station in Australia.

The portion of the movie where the planet beneath the spacecraft was dark has been largely removed since no detail was visible.

The images show the spacecraft’s slow descent from high above the planet, speeding up as closest approach is passed and then slowing down again as the distance increases. Towards the start of the video, the giant Martian volcanoes can be seen followed by the beginning of the ice coverage around the South Pole as the spacecraft crosses over to the night side of the planet. Shortly after emerging back onto the day side of the planet, the beautiful North Pole can be observed, followed by the long climb away from the planet over the equator. Finally, at the end of the movie, the disk of Phobos can be seen crossing from top to bottom of the image.

credit:  ESA