Stare at this stunning slice of Mars and weep with me

You'll just have to crane your neck to the side. The Mars Express orbiter has captured a gorgeous image of the red planet, from the north pole to the south.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
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This ESA Mars Express image shows the Terra Sabaea and Arabia Terra regions. It has been turned on its side. The white cap of the north pole is to the left. The original image is oriented with the north pole up.


If you need to find me this weekend, I'll be curled up in a fetal position on the floor gazing at this new image of a slice of Mars, as seen by the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. 

My eyes will be tracking the path of the image from the cool white spread of the frozen, cloud-covered north pole down across the planet's crater-pocked midsection and to the dusky hues of the south pole. I'll have a hanky ready.

I took the liberty to lay the image on its side so it'd play nice with our website format, but what you really need to do is check out the ESA's ginormous version available as a hi-res JPEG or a data-gobbling TIFF file. Go ahead, I'll wait while you download it and find a screen the size of a Jumbotron to view it on. 

You back? Great. Before I dissolve into a quivering puddle of contemplation over my place in the universe, let's talk about how the Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera snapped this slice in June. It highlights the variety of terrain across Mars and the differences between its hemispheres. 

"The split between Mars' two hemispheres is known as the martian dichotomy, and remains one of the greatest mysteries about the planet," said ESA in a release on Thursday. "Whoa," I whispered.

The ESA spacecraft has been chronicling the red planet since its arrival in 2003 as it maps the surface and studies the mineral composition and atmosphere of Mars. 

Mars Express has also been busy blowing my little mind with the sheer beauty of its subject matter. I need to go curl up now.

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