First-time contributor Errol Bruce of Lakeside, California, has sent us this fantastic mosaic based on VMC observations of 12 January. It shows a beautiful view of a stripe across Mars as Mars Express flew away from the planet, pointing VMC and snapping pictures as it went. The images show this flight, starting at an altitude of 1800 km on the right of the image and hurtling away from the planet until the last picture (on the left of the image) was taken at an altitude of nearly 4500 km. To give you a feeling of speed, the time for this whole journey was only 30 minutes!
In Errol's mosaic, you can see the first images on the right of the panorama, which cover a smaller area but have more surface detail, as the spacecraft was close to the planet. Then, as it ascends, you see the area of each image get larger and larger, with a corresponding drop in the resolution of the details on the surface. It's a really nice illustration of the journey made by Mars Express on every orbit, which lasts a little under 7 hours and takes the spacecraft from an altitude of over 10 000 km down to a closest approach of around 350 km altitude.
On top of this, Errol has managed to bring out beautiful colours and fantastic detail. To learn how he did it, hit "Full story" for more details - a great submission, thanks Errol! -- Thomas
First-time contributor Rick Hollar, from Bakersfield, California, USA, has sent us two beautiful interpretations of one of the images from the recent low-altitude VMC image sets - where Mars Express orbited down across the end of the Red Planet's great valley, Valles Marineris, and past the Tharsis Montes chain of volcanoes.
To get such stunning detail out of the original VMC image, Rick used a technique called 'flat-fielding' - which maps the marks and irregularities on the camera itself and subtracts them from the digital image to output a 'cleaned' version; this technique can be applied to improve all VMC images.
Hit "Full story" to see Rick's two interpretations of this image, his description of what he did and a comparison with the original VMC image, as delivered from Mars. Thanks for the submission Rick! --Thomas
One month ago today we had a 'first' for a VMC observations - we targeted the 'limb' of Mars, pointing the camera at low altitude to the edge of the planet to try and catch some clouds and weather features on the Red Planet. The observation was a huge success and we caught a broad swath of the edge of the planet, acquiring VMC shots of weather on another world!
As always with VMC, you are our scientists and the images were picked up eagerly by several amateur contributors (look at 'Help us with the VMC' if you're interested in getting involved). Today we present some of the fruits of their work, including two beautiful mosaics showing the whole limb observation, from Hannes Griebel and Doug Ellison. The third image is a stack to enhance cloud detail on a portion of the observation, created by Mike Malaska, and really shows off the detail in the clouds.
Thank you to everyone who sent in home-processed images, and please do continue to share your results.
If anyone wants to interpret what is shown in these images, then let us know in the comments. Hit the "Full Story" link for more details on each image. Thanks from everyone to Doug, Hannes and Mike! --Thomas Full story »
Regular VMC contributor Mike Malaska contributed this beautiful view of Mars and set a new record for VMC - the fastest-ever turn-around time from VMC capturing the pictures at Mars to a processed and enhanced version being created and uploaded to the web.
Mike used our new "Observation Details" information (hit the "Full Story" link on any observation to see it) to determine that the images were captured and sent to ground in quick succession. Then Mike processed the image - bringing out colour and detail - and uploaded it to his Flickr site within 24 hours of the capture - our fastest ever!
It's really great stuff to such active involvement in the images; thanks again, Mike! Hit the 'Full Story' link to see the timeline of this image and read what he did to make it happen. -- Thomas
Image Credit: ESA/M. Malaska