Looking at the limb of Mars with VMC
In this movie, the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) on Mars Express was used for the first time to image the limb of Mars during most of a complete orbit, showing in good detail the atmosphere seen 'edge on' at the apparent border between the planet's surface and space.
The movie was stitched together from a series of 403 still images acquired by the camera during 13:45–19:09 UTC on 29 April 2016, during orbit 15624.
The spacecraft was commanded to turn as it orbited Mars, which kept the camera pointing at the brightest point on the horizon as Mars Express passed over the southern hemisphere.
An animation showing the planned trajectory over Mars can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK3MTG_L3pk
This image shows the ground track of Mars Express over the surface: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2016/04/Mars_Express_ground_track
It is interesting to note that the movie clearly shows gravity-orographic atmospheric waves that can be seen in the martian clouds just after the point of closest passage above the surface (seen around seven to nine seconds into the video).
This movie is the first example of the type of imaging that can be done using VMC as a scientific instrument in support of, for example, cloud tracking and dust storm monitoring, which are significant topics in the planetary science community.
Thanks to Alejandro Cardesin at the Mars Express Science Operations Centre, ESAC, Spain, and Simon Wood, Spacecraft Operations Engineer at ESOC, Germany.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO License.