The view from the Trace Gas Orbiter. Image Credit: ESA/Roscosmos/EsoMars/CaSSIS/UniBE
The Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) has returned a set of high-quality test photographs from the Red Planet.
Despite losing its companion Schiaparelli lander to a computer glitch shortly after arriving at Mars back in October, the atmospheric research orbiter is continuing to do well.
Developed through a collaboration between the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscomos, the Trace Gas Orbiter is designed to acquire a better understanding of methane and other trace gases present in the planet's atmosphere.
While the spacecraft is not yet in the correct orbit to begin operations, the team behind it have taken the opportunity this week to test out its cameras and other on-board instrumentation.
The images returned were taken around 250km above the surface over the Hebes Chasma region.
"We saw Hebes Chasma at 2.8 metres per pixel," said principal investigator Nicolas Thomas. "That's a bit like flying over Bern at 15,000km/h and simultaneously getting sharp pictures of cars in Zurich."
In addition to its cameras, the probe is also equipped with several infrared spectrometers and a neutron detector capable of picking of signs of hydrogen near the planet's surface.