This image of the Hellas Basin was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express later last year (6 December 2016).
Last month (14 March 2016), ExoMars 2016 was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. ExoMars 2016 will precede the 2018 rover mission and will search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes on Mars.
Scheduled to arrive at the red planet in October 2016, it will also deploy a descent and landing demonstrator module and test key technologies in preparation for subsequent missions to the planet.
UK involvement in the 2016 mission is through Dr Manish Patel at the Open University who is co-Principal Investigator for the NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery) instrument on board the probe. Dr Patel and his team worked specifically on UVIS, a miniature ultraviolet spectrometer whose main objective is to detect and quantify trace gas concentrations but also to study aerosols present in the Martian atmosphere.
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