In 2016, The European Space Agency’s Mars orbiter sent back the first high-resolution images of the Red Planet, and the view is incredible.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) arrived at Mars on Oct. 19, when its companion spacecraft Schiaparelli crash-landed on the planet’s surface. Since then, TGO has been circling Mars, testing out its machinery, and taking spectacularly sharp pictures of the landscape using its Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS).
The first images received were absolutely spectacular, and according to Nicolas Thomas, CaSSIS team leader at the University of Bern’s Center of Space and Habitability, it was only meant to be a test.
These first images allowed ESA to test the camera’s color, along with the stereo-imaging capabilities. This would allow CaSSIS to build 3D maps of the Martian surface by combining views from multiple perspectives.
Though the color-imaging equipment was functioning as planned, the first photos that appeared were black and white. That’s because the areas photographed are dusty ― volcanic without much color to be seen. “We will have to wait a little until something colorful passes under the spacecraft,” Thomas said.
That was in 2016. In June of 2018, the Italian Space Agency (ISA) presented previously unseen images of a Martian crater and a hole on a volcanic plain taken by ExoMars. The investigative mission was to explore the possibility of past or present life on the Red Planet.
These images taken by the CaSSIS showed the interior of the 100 km wide Nicholson crater and a depression on the Daedalian volcanic plains.
The images were taken by a camera developed under the supervision of Professor Nicholas Thomas from Bern University and manufactured by Leonardo, the Italian aerospace corporation.
Padua’s National Institute of Astrophysics supplied the focal plane lens assembly and the camera’s electronic processing system generating the image files, later 3D rendered at the Padua institute.
ExoMars is currently orbiting the Red planet at a height of 400 km and will take one weekly high-res, 3D topographical image, enabling an in-depth study of the Mars surface.
“Basically, 3-D pictures trick your brain into doing what it does all the time in the real world,” says Zareh Gorjian, a graphic artist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who makes 3-D pictures and animations of Mars for a living, both the black-and-white kind and the more advanced color versions.
Though the mission of the ExoMars is designed specifically to explore Mars, the implications are there for further deep space exploration. The gathering of 3D images will help researchers gain a fuller understanding of our Universe.
In a recent article, we mentioned the collaboration of NASA, the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency’s work on sending other images from space.
At Universe Optics, our primary focus is making sure that the lens you need for your 3D imaging equipment offers the highest resolution possible. A high-resolution lens allows for definition and clarity of the images being sent back from deep space exploration.
Universe Kogaku designs and manufactures optical lenses for 3D imaging technology, security, high tech and electronic applications. We stock 1000’s of standard lens assemblies and can custom design a solution for scanners, CCTV, CCD/CMOS, medical imaging, surveillance systems, machine vision and night vision systems.