Nasa reveals 'unique' photo of the horizon of Mars

Nasa's Odyssey Orbiter has captured captivating and "unusual" views of the horizon of Mars, the American space organisation reported.

The image, taken about 250 miles above the Martian surface, was planned by engineers for three months with the help of Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS). It views the visible and infrared reflections from the surface.

The photo has captured clouds and dust in the Red Planet's skies — along with one of its two small moons.

“If there were astronauts in orbit over Mars, this is the perspective they would have,” said Jonathon Hill, the operations lead for Odyssey’s camera from Arizona State University. “No Mars spacecraft has ever had this kind of view before."

The unveiling of the photo follows Nasa's 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter completing its 22nd year at Mars last month. It marks the seventh time the orbiter THEMIS has been pointed towards one of Mars' little moons, Phobos, to measure temperature variations across its surface. Phobos, which measures 16 miles across, is what Nasa believes to be an ancient chunk of Mars blasted off its surface by an impact.

THEMIS can measure quantities of water, ice or dust in the atmosphere in a narrow column beneath the spacecraft. This then allows improved models of Mars' atmosphere to be drawn up by astronomers.

Mr Hill described the angle in the new photo as "different" and "unique", meaning it could help develop scientists' understanding of the Red Planet. The spacecraft captured 10 images which may offer insight into the Martian atmosphere.

However, the mission is aiming to secure a more expansive view of the atmosphere. This is particularly so they are able to discover where layers of dust and water-ice clouds lie and their distance from one another.