First News - - SCIENCE NEWS - by Ed­die de Oliveira

A FEW weeks ago, NASA’s lat­est mis­sion to Mars, the Per­se­ver­ance rover, lifted off.

But 15 years ago this month, an­other space­craft headed for the Red Planet. The Mars Re­con­nais­sance Or­biter (MRO) lifted off on 12 Au­gust 2005, and en­tered the Mar­tian or­bit in March 2006. Armed with three pow­er­ful cam­eras, the MRO has stud­ied the planet’s sur­face and at­mos­phere, as well what lies be­neath the sur­face, ever since.

Its High-Res­o­lu­tion Imag­ing Sci­ence Ex­per­i­ment cam­era has taken 6,882,204 im­ages of our neigh­bour. To mark its 15th birthday, here are some of our favourites. Many happy re­turns, MRO!

An im­pact crater where a me­te­orite struck Mars

This im­pact crater is sur­rounded by a large ‘blast zone’. The ex­plo­sion that caused this crater threw de­bris as far as 15 kilo­me­tres away!

This worm-like shape is a dust devil, snapped from 297 kilo­me­tres above the ground. The whirl­wind is 800 me­tres high – about the height of the tallest build­ing on Earth

This dra­matic snap cap­tures an avalanche on a 500-me­tre cliff at Mars’ north pole

A stun­ning image of one of Mars’ two moons, Pho­bos

These shapes in the floor of a crater are com­monly found in the north­ern low­lands of Mars

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