The European Space Agency’s Mars Express has taken its first picture of the red planet as it gears up for arrival later this month. The photograph was taken by the probe’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) Dec. 1 and released today. It shows Mars from about 3.4 million miles (5.5 million kilometers) away. It is a very unusual view of Mars, ESA scientists said, because the planet is illuminated in a way never seen from Earth. The Sun shines on part of the western hemisphere, but more than a third of the Martian disk lies in the dark.