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This is a collage of Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) images acquired on 25 May and downloaded to Earth early on 26 May 2015. They are among the first in a series of over 2000 images that are being acquired by Mars Express in support of the VMC Schools Campaign.
In March 2015, ESA invited schools, science clubs and youth groups to submit proposals for imaging Mars using the VMC – the 'Mars Webcam' – on board Mars Express.
VMC is a simple, low-resolution device that was originally intended only to provide visual confirmation of Beagle lander separation. Since 2007, it has provided unique images of Mars, including crescent views of the planet not obtainable from Earth, which are routinely shared via a dedicated blog and Flickr.
Of over 50 responses received from worldwide, 25 proposals from 12 countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Spain, UK, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, USA) were selected to receive images of their desired targets. These comprise martian surface features ranging from Olympus Mons and Meridani Planum to Phillips Crater and the South Pole.
Each group has promised to complete an educational or artistic project/activity using their images, which will later be published by ESA.
Mars Express is conducting three imaging orbits on 25 and 26 May dedicated to the campaign, and the complete image set is expected to be downloaded before the end of May and will be distributed to the participants shortly thereafter.