What's the Latest Development?
In the summer of 2003, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a mission to explore the surface of Mars from orbit as well as on the ground. While the rover, Beagle 2, stopped communicating shortly after leaving the orbiter, that orbiter, Mars Express, has spent the last 10 years taking pictures of the entire planet. To celebrate that milestone, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) has released a video compilation of images that gives the viewer the sensation of flying over canyons, craters, and mountains.
What's the Big Idea?
DLR is also responsible for the camera that's producing the images: The Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera "consists of nine individual image sensors, [each of which] is used to sweep the surface from a different observational angle." This results in 3D models of the surface that are extremely detailed and accurate. Largely because of this data, the ESA has extended the orbiter's mission five times, with the current end date scheduled for sometime in 2014.