Photo of Half-Lit Mars Reaches Earth

Photo of Half-Lit Mars Reaches Earth

A new photo of Mars has been taken by the European Space Agency's Mars Express and was sent to Earth on December 18. It was received on space tracking station in Malargüe, Argentina.

This is the first interplanetary message received in form of a photo that showcases half-lit Mars as it appeared to the orbiting spacecraft. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the President of Argentina activated the huge antenna dish with help of a remote link from Presidential Palace, Casa Rosada so as to memorialize the event.

As seen in the photo, Mars looks like lying down on one side with the lit side downwards and the dark side facing upwards. Three volcanoes are visible in the picture as well. The picture is taken from a distance of 9,761 kilometers with help of low resolution Visual Monitoring Camera on the Mars Express.

The picture was received by the Malargüe station at its official inauguration held last week which took 18 minutes to reach Earth from Mars covering a distance of 327 million km. "With the Malargüe station, ESA becomes only the second space agency in the world to provide all-sky coverage for deep-space missions", said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Director-General of ESA in a statement.

Mars Express is orbiting Mars since December 2003 and shall run till 2014.

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