BALTIMORE — THE Hubble Space Telescope is snapping the sharpest pictures of Mars ever taken from the vicinity of Earth to monitor seasonal atmospheric changes on the red planet. The work may help scientists understand the planet's weather patterns, a prerequisite for manned missions to Mars, according to the Space Telescope Science Institute.
One of the first pictures of Mars released by the Space Telescope Science Institute shows a clear sky over much of the planet, but a thick canopy of clouds obscuring the frigid north-pole region.
Other visible details include Isidis Planitia, a 620-mile-wide impact basin, the cratered Arabia Planitia region, the windswept Syrtis Major area, and the bright Hellas Planitia basin, which measures 1,118 miles across and five miles deep.
The Hubble observations will allow scientists to monitor the surface and atmosphere of Mars to reveal the global distribution of water and dust clouds at various locations and times of year.
Hubble is also detecting ultraviolet light from Mars, which should indicate water and ozone levels in Mars's atmosphere.