Volcanoes, ice caps, dust storms, curious clouds and a double vortex are just some of the delights captured by ESA’s Mars Express ‘webcam’, and now the data behind the images are available in the Planetary Science Archive, the central repository for all scientific data returned by ESA's Solar System missions.
Originally intended as an engineering instrument to watch the release of the Beagle 2 lander in 2003, the Visual Monitoring Camera (VMC) onboard ESA’s Mars Express was repurposed to observe the Red Planet since 2007, and became a recognised science instrument in 2016. Now the data behind the images are available in the Planetary Science Archives alongside that of the spacecraft’s other seven science instruments.
The data comes from observations taken of the Red Planet between 2007 to mid-2020, as well as of the release of the Beagle 2 lander in 2003, calibrated for scientific use and available in different formats.
Data from the VMC has already been instrumental for a number of scientific studies and publications. Previously, VMC images were only available via a Flickr page, but today’s release is the first ‘science data’ release for the instrument, and is the culmination of several years of hard work by the VMC team.
Stunning views of the Red Planet will continue to be provided to the general public through Flickr in near real-time – usually within a few days of when the images were taken at Mars.
The image collage presented here highlights some of the beautiful views already captured by the camera and which are available in the archive and gallery. From left to right, row by row: Dust/water ice over the north pole (4 October 2019); Arsia Mons Elongated Cloud (12 November 2008); Olympus Mons caldera (19 October 2019); Double cyclone at the edge of the north pole (16 June 2012); Full disk of Mars with south pole visible (17 November 2016); Part of Valles Marineris with hazes present (12 November 2018); Tharsis Volcanoes and Olympus Mons (9 June 2010): Cloud over Olympus Mons (9 January 2019); Textured patterns in north polar cap (1 January 2020); Polar hoods (water ice clouds) over the north polar cap (28 December 2010): Valles Marineris canyon system (1 July 2008); Full disk of Mars with Tharsis volcanos visible (22 October 2017); Local dust storm over the north polar cap (6 September 2016); Syrtis Major (9 March 2020); Twilight clouds on Mars (25 November 2019); Close up of the south pole of Mars (8 August 2010).
Read more about the data release via the Mars webcam blog
Explore the data here