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This breathtaking 3D landscape was constructed with high definition images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express orbiter. The new observations show Hebes Chasma, a strange mountain region nested inside the canyon, with channel-like fingers reaching out into the Martian landscape. The imaged region shows features down to a resolution of 15 meters per pixel, an awe-inspiring view… in stereo!
The HRSC is currently looking down onto the Red Planet’s surface, taking shots of the planet in full colour, in 3D and with a maximum resolution of two meters. The camera design allows it unrivalled pointing accuracy by combining images at different resolutions at each orbital pass. By imaging the landscape at three different wavelengths (i.e. three colours), a stereoscopic view of Mars features give observers an insight to how the canyon will look from different angles, in 3D models.
Hebes Chasma is a very prominent Mars feature just north of the huge Valles Marineris system (a.k.a. the “Grand Canyon of Mars”). Hebes is described as an enclosed trough, with a high, flat-top mountain range right in the centre. The canyon is over 8 km deep in places, and the central mountain ascends to this height, at the same level as the surrounding plains. There is evidence to suggest that liquid water once flowed here, possibly creating a vast moat around the mountain, leaving its top isolated when the canyon was full of water. If this natural formation was found on Earth in medieval times, I couldn’t think of a better defended castle if it was built on the apex of this 8 km high range…
A number of huge images have been released, and here are links to a few of the best:
- The entire Hebes Chasma at a resolution of 15 meters/pixel (1.2 MB .jpg)
- 3D anaglyph image of the canyon (1.6 MB .jpg) – Go make your 3D glasses!
- An oblique-angle reconstruction view of the central mountain range (1.6 MB .jpg)
I can’t wait to see more Mars features in stunning 3D projections…