It’s August 12, 2005, and NASA has just launched its unmanned Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. However, it will be November 2006 before the ship is in the appropriate orbit to start making scientific observations and taking photographs. And when these high-resolution images finally arrive, they offer astonishing views of Mars as it has never before been seen.
But before we get on to the details about Orbiter and the incredible images that it has taken, let’s get to know Mars a little better. Often referred to as the ‘Red Planet,’ because it has a reddish hue when observed in the night sky, Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun – with Earth being the third.