The European Space Agency (ESA) has unveiled a spectacular photo of the Korolev Crater in the far north of the Red Planet. The breathtaking image is the first one to be captured by ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which settled into its orbit above Mars only a few weeks ago.
The stunning photo was taken on April 15 from an altitude of about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Martian surface and reveals a 25-mile-long (40 km) stretch of the Korolev Crater. The crater's beautiful icy rims are clearly visible in the photo, which made the TGO technical team take pride in the quality of the snapshot.
This first image beamed back to Earth by the TGO was taken with the objective to test the orbiter's Color and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) camera, disclosed ESA officials.
"We were really pleased to see how good this picture was given the lighting conditions," Antoine Pommerol, a member of the CaSSIS science team tasked with data calibration, said in a statement.
"It shows that CaSSIS can make a major contribution to studies of the carbon dioxide and water cycles on Mars," Pommerol added.
Now that CaSSIS has passed the test with flying colors, the camera will commence its true scientific mission starting April 28, Space.com reports.