Mars: ESA's target for 2003
The Red Planet as you would see it from ESA's Mars Express at about a week from arrival in orbit.
Taking advantage of Mars's closest approach to Earth in eight years, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took the then sharpest views of the Red Planet in 1999. The telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 snapped this image Mars when it was only 87 million kilometres from Earth. From this distance the telescope could see features as small as 19 kilometres wide.
This image is centered on the dark feature known as Syrtis Major, first seen by the astronomer Christian Huygens in the 17th century. Clearly visible are the icy north and south poles, and along the right limb, late afternoon clouds have formed around the volcano Elysium.
Last update: 13 September 2004