Taking advantage of Mars's closest approach to Earth in eight years, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have taken the space-based observatory's sharpest views yet of the Red Planet. NASA is releasing these images to commemorate the second anniversary of the Mars Pathfinder landing. The lander and its rover, Sojourner, touched down on the Red Planet's rolling hills on July 4, 1997, embarking on an historic three-month mission to gather information on the planet's atmosphere, climate, and geology.
The telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 snapped images between April 27 and May 6, when Mars was 54 million miles (87 million kilometers) from Earth. From this distance the telescope could see Martian features as small as 12 miles (19 kilometers) wide.
The telescope obtained four images (see PIA01587)., which, together, show the entire planet.
The four hemispheric views have been combined into a full-color global map (called a Mollweide projection). Latitudes below about 60 degrees south were not viewed by the telescope because the planet's north pole was tilted towards Earth during this time. This image is a composite of pictures taken with three filters: blues (410 nanometers), green (502 nanometers), and red (673 nanometers).
This color composite was generated from data using three filters: blue (410 nanometers), green (502 nanometers), and red (673 nanometers).