Launched on June 2, 2003, the European Space Agency’s Mars Express arrived at Mars six and a half months later. In the past 10 years, it has orbited the planet nearly 12,500 times, returning unprecedented images and massive amounts of data.
This information has been woven together to create a topographic model of the surface, providing a stunning visualization of the terrain, from the highest volcano to the deepest canyon, flying over impact craters, ancient river beds, and lava flows.
Mars Express' High Resolution Stereo Camera captured these images, which were used along with additional data to create the video released by the DLR German Aerospace Center in June as part of the 10 years of Mars Express celebrations. (The camera was developed and is operated by the DLR.) The images in this slideshow are from that video.
The animation shows Mars Express flying over the craters of the planet, where numerous landslides, resulting from water weakening the crater walls, have occurred, leaving grooves in the walls and debris piled on the floor below.