Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Good day.

GOOGLE tells me that there is something interesting coming up. :-)

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in the process of orbiting Mars and will take some time to get that circularized.

Not to fear, images to start soonest, and then go to sleep for 6 months.
Will be nice to get a taste of what the HiRise instrument will be able to do.

Larry Kellogg

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NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE Team to Get First Mars Images Thursday Night

Date Released: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Source: University of Arizona

The University of Arizona's High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is scheduled to take its first images of Mars at 9:41 p.m. Mountain Time Thursday night, March 23.

According to the latest schedule, the HiRISE camera will take four images of Mars between 9:41 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. Thursday. The camera will also take a second set of images during another orbit, between 9:15 a.m. and 9:22 a.m.
Mountain Time on Saturday, March 25.

"We could have our data in hand as early as an hour-and-a-half, or two hours after the observations," said Eric Eliason of UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, or as soon as 11:15 p.m. Thursday and 10:45 a.m. Saturday.

Eliason manages the HiRISE Operations Center (HiROC) in the C. P. Sonett Space Sciences Building, 1541 E. University Blvd, on the UA campus.

*** EDITORS - Media are welcome at HiROC as the team views the camera's first images. For more information, contact HiRISE team member Loretta McKibben, 520-626-7432, loretta @, or Lori Stiles, University Communications, 520-626-4402, ***

HiRISE images taken during two orbits will be the camera's only photos for the next six months because the camera will be turned off while the spacecraft "aerobrakes." This involves dipping repeatedly into the upper atmosphere to scrub off speed and drop into successively more circular orbits.

The NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), will provide more science data than all previous Mars missions combined. HiRISE is the most powerful telescope camera ever sent to another planet.

The first images will be highly experimental because the team is trying a number of algorithms and systems for the first time, so things could go wrong, said UA planetary sciences Professor Alfred McEwen, who leads HiRISE.

"However, we are sure to learn important lessons about how to operate the spacecraft and HiRISE."

Also, the geometries of the early orbits may be less than ideal for the HiRise camera's test-image swath. And there's a chance that atmospheric dust or ice hazes could obscure the surface because it's early fall in the southern hemisphere.

The camera's first images will be taken at middle latitudes of the southern hemisphere when the MRO is flying between 1,500 miles and 800 miles (2,500 km and 1,300 km) above the planet. After aerobraking, the camera will fly just outside the planet's atmosphere at only 190 miles (about 300 km) above the surface.

Some of the camera's first targets next fall will be of potential landing sites for UA's Phoenix Mission lander, which is slated to reach the Martian surface in May 2008. This Scout-class lander mission is led by LPL scientist Peter Smith. The Phoenix Mission will communicate with Earth using MRO's high-data-rate relay.

The MRO mission is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft.

PIO Contact: Lori Stiles
Contact Information
Alfred S. McEwen 520-621-4573 Eric Eliason 520-626-0764 Loretta McKibben 520-626-7432
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) will fly on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission, planned for launch in August of 2005.

HiRISE will investigate deposits and landforms resulting from geologic and climatic processes and assist in the evaluation of candidate landing sites.

By combining very high resolution and signal-to-noise ratio with a large swath width, it is possible to image on a variety of scales down to 1 meter, a scale currently afforded only in glimpses by landers. HiRISE will offer such views over any selected region of Mars, providing a bridge between orbital remote sensing and landed missions. Stereo image pairs will be acquired over the highest-priority locations with a vertical precision of better than 25 cm per pixel.
User-friendly web tools will be available to both the science community and the public to view/analyze HiRISE images and to submit observation requests.

Processed images will be released soon after acquisition to allow everyone to share in the scientific discovery process.
Science instruments
Posted: August 9, 2005
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will carry six science instruments. Two additional investigations will use the spacecraft itself as an instrument.
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment will photograph selected places on Mars with the most powerful telescopic camera ever built for use at a foreign planet. It will reveal features as small as a kitchen table in images covering swaths of Mars' surface 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) wide.
Combining images taken through filters admitting three different portions of the spectrum will produce color images in the central portion of the field of view. Paired images of top-priority target areas taken from slightly different angles during different orbits will yield three-dimensional views revealing differences in height as small as 25 centimeters (10 inches).

[More about the other instruments here as well. - LRK -] =============================================================

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