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Icy Mars crater stars in ExoMars' colorful image

The European Space Agency's ExoMars orbiter shares a fresh look at a fascinating landscape feature on Mars, in full, fetching color.

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This view of a Mars crater rim is one of the first color images sent back by the ExoMars orbiter.

ESA/Roscosmos/CaSSIS

NASA isn't the only space agency with colorful photos of Mars. The European Space Agency and Roscosmos' ExoMars orbiter is now seeing the Red Planet with new eyes. One of the first color images it sent back is a gorgeous view of the icy rim of the Korolev crater.

The crater view is a composite of three images taken April 15. 

ExoMars has been in residence around the Red Planet since late 2016. The science team is currently testing the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) camera ahead of the start of the orbiter's main science mission later this month.

We'd previously seen some black-and-white ExoMars views of the planet.

"We will have to wait a little until something colorful passes under the spacecraft," said principal investigator Nicolas Thomas at the University of Bern in Switzerland when those images were released in late 2016.   

That "something colorful" is the scenic crater rim. The bright areas are stretches of ice. You can check out the very long full image from the ESA.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter's main purpose is to sniff out and catalog the rare gases in Mars' atmosphere, but the camera is tasked with sending back visuals to help identify geologic processes happening on the surface. 

The CaSSIS camera recently received a software update. "It is amazing that you can totally change the software in an instrument flying around Mars more than 100 million kilometres away and that it works," said Thomas.

The ExoMars mission also included a lander called Schiaparelli, which crashed in October 2016 while attempting to touch down. The orbiter remains healthy and ready to go to work. 

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