From NASA's Planetary Photojournal
The Hubble Space Telescope has taken tts sharpest views yet of the Red Planet. Its Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 snapped images between April 27 and May 6,1999, when Mars was 54 million miles (87 million kilometers) from Earth. From this distance the telescope could see Martian features as small as 12 miles (19 kilometers) wide. This color composite is generated from data using three filters: blue (410 nanometers), green (502 nanometers), and red (673 nanometers).
This image is centered on the dark feature known as Syrtis Major, first seen telescopically by the astronomer Christian Huygens in the 17th century. Many small, dark, circular impact craters can be seen in this region, attesting to the Hubble telescope's ability to reveal fine detail on the planet's surface. To the south of Syrtis is a large circular feature called Hellas. Viking and more recently Mars Global Surveyor have revealed that Hellas is a large and deep impact crater. These Hubble telescope pictures show it to be filled with surface frost and water ice clouds. Along the right limb, late afternoon clouds have formed around the volcano Elysium.
Image Title: A Closer Hubble Encounter With Mars - Syrtis Major
Catalog #: PIA01592
Target Name: Mars
Spacecraft: Hubble Space Telescope
Photo credits: Steve Lee (University of Colorado), Jim Bell (Cornell University), Mike Wolff (Space Science Institute), and NASA
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Last Modified On: Monday, December 18, 2000