Bernese Mars camera CaSSIS returns spectacular images

ScienceDaily | 3/14/2019 | Staff
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The Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) on board the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) was developed by an international team led by Prof. Nicolas Thomas of the Center for Space and Habitability (CSH) at the University of Bern. The TGO launched three years ago today, on 14 March 2016. It arrived at Mars on 19 October that year, and spent over a year demonstrating the aerobraking technique needed to reach its science orbit, starting its prime mission at the end of April 2018.

Amongst a new showcase of images from CaSSIS is an image of NASA's InSight lander -- the first time a European instrument has identified a lander on the Red Planet. InSight arrived on Mars on 26 November 2018 to study the interior of the planet. Images of the lander have already been returned by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, these are the first images from TGO.

Image - CaSSIS - March - Area - Km

The panchromatic image was captured by CaSSIS on 2 March 2019, and covers an area of about 2.25 x 2.25 km. At that time, InSight was hammering a probe into the surface in order to measure heat coming from inside the planet. The CaSSIS view shows InSight as a slightly brighter dot in the centre of the dark patch produced when the lander fired its retro rockets just before touchdown in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars, and disturbed the surface dust. The heat shield released just before landing can also be seen on the edge of a crater, and the backshell used to protect the lander during descent is also identified.

"The TGO is being used to relay data from InSight to Earth," says Nicolas Thomas, CaSSIS Principal Investigator, from the University of Bern. "Because of this function, to avoid uncertainties in communications, we had not been able to point the camera...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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