The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) from NASA was able to take clear photos of the agency's InSight lander on the Red Planet. Aside from the lander, the orbiter was also able to photograph the Curiosity rover as it was exploring the Martian surface.
NASA first launched the MRO in 2005 to specifically orbit Mars and observe the alien planet's surface. In the latest photos taken by the orbiter, the InSight lander can be clearly seen on the surface as it explores the Red Planet's deep interior.
According to NASA, the MRO was about 272 kilometres from the planet's surface when it spotted the InSight lander. Despite being far away, the lander's distinct shape can still be clearly seen in the photo.
"Taken on Sept. 23, 2019, at an altitude of 169 miles (272 kilometres) above the surface, the new image is NASA's best view yet of InSight from space," the agency said in a statement. "It clearly shows the two circular solar panels on either side of the lander body, spanning 20 feet (6 meters) from end to end."
According to NASA, MRO's latest image is clearer than the previous photographs it took due to the ideal environmental conditions on the Red Planet at that time.
"Several factors make this image crisper than a set of images released after InSight's November 2018 landing," NASA explained. "For one thing, there's less dust in the air this time."
"The lighting was also optimal for avoiding the bright reflections from the lander or its solar panels that have obscured surrounding pixels in other images," the agency continued.
Aside from the lander, the orbiter was also able to spot the Curiosity rover as it was going through a region on Mars that NASA scientists believe is rich in clay. NASA pointed out that the tracks made by the rover can also be seen in the photo as it made its way across an area known as the Woodland Bay.
Like in InSight's photo, the MRO was also able to capture certain distinct features of Curiosity. These include the rover's mirror-like exterior as well as its remote sensing mast, which is referred to as Curiosity's head.