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Take a trip over the surface of Mars in this breathtaking new video

Since 2004, Europe's Mars Express has orbited the Red Planet nearly 12,500 times, taking countless hi-res photos along the way. The data from these images have now been stitched together to create a stunning topographic model of the Martian surface.

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In the video, you'll soar over mountains, craters, ancient river beds, and lava flows — all of which were drawn from images taken by the the satellite's High Resolution Stereo Camera. The video was released by the DLR German Aerospace Center as part of the ten years of Mars Express celebrations.

Related: Soar through the largest canyon in the solar system

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DISCUSSION

This is all very cool and all, but I wish they'd generate some rocks and sand, either within the 3D software or by layering on textured images captured from Earth deserts, just to give it a better sense of scale and realism. It wouldn't affect the topography, but would make everything look less digital and artificial.

This is especially necessary because we now know, from the Rovers, what the surface of Mars actually looks like, and it's incredibly familiar-looking, and not at all "alien".