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The picture of the "magnificent" crater is a combination of photos taken between 2002 and 2005 by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) instrument on NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, which became the longest-working spacecraft in Mars's history this week, according to NASA.
The spacecraft's most famous discovery to date—evidence for copious amounts of water ice lurking just below the dry Martian surface—was also one of its first, said Mars Odyssey project scientist Jeffrey Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Each several miles wide, the craters were formed when a meteorite broke in two shortly before hitting the ground, creating two bowl-shaped depressions. Mars Odyssey has led a somewhat charmed life, Plaut added. "We haven't had any real difficult moments." The "biggest crisis" occurred on Halloween 2003, when a solar "superstorm" released a barrage of charged particles that wreaked havoc on all electronics on Mars, he said. Odyssey lost its radiation-measurement instrument but later recovered.
For a spacecraft that's been in orbit for nearly ten years, Odyssey is in "beautiful condition," Plaut said. Most of its science instruments are still functioning, and backup systems for Odyssey have never had to be called into action. Perhaps the major limiting factor for the spacecraft is the small amount of fuel needed weekly to maintain its orbit. If there are no major adjustments to Odyssey's orbit, team member estimate the spacecraft has enough fuel to last 10 to 15 more years.
That's a fantastic shot!
Originally posted by anon72
Mars Sand Sea
What scientists of the past would have given to see what we can see, we almost take it for granted!