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Mars horizon captured in new image: "No Mars spacecraft has ever had this kind of view before"

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Scientists got a rare look at the curving Martian landscape thanks to images captured by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter, the space agency announced Tuesday. 

NASA revealed multiple new panoramic images of clouds and dust in Mars' skies and one of its two tiny moons taken by the spacecraft last May. They were captured by the Odyssey's camera, called the Thermal Emission Imaging System, or THEMIS.

1-pia26203-odysseys-themis-views-the-horizon-width-1320.png
NASA

The rare images were taken from an altitude of about 250 miles, the same altitude at which the International Space Station flies above Earth, according to NASA. 

"If there were astronauts in orbit over Mars, this is the perspective they would have," said Jonathon Hill, the operations lead of THEMIS. "No Mars spacecraft has ever had this kind of view before."

The Odyssey, which completed its 22nd year orbiting Mars last month, is expected to take similar pictures in the future to try and capture the Martian atmosphere in different seasons, NASA said. 

The Mars Report by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on YouTube

In its latest effort, THEMIS captured images of Mars' little moon, Phobos, that has provided insight into the composition and physical properties of the moon, according to NASA. 

The images will contribute to further studies that will help determine if Phobos is a captured asteroid or an ancient chunk of Mars that was blasted off the surface by an impact, NASA said. 

"We got a different angle and lighting conditions of Phobos than we're used to," Hill said. "That makes it a unique part of our Phobos dataset."

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