First Images From Mars

First HiRISE Image of Mars from Mapping Orbit: Ius Chasma, Valles Marineris
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Ius Chasma, Valles Marineris
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MRO's HiRISE camera captured its first image of Mars in the mapping orbit, demonstrating the full resolution capability. The image was acquired at 8:16 AM (Pacific time), and parts of the image became available to the HiRISE team at 1:30 PM. With the spacecraft at an altitude of 280 km, the image scale is 29.7 cm/pixel (about 12 inches/pixel).

This sub-image covers a small portion of the floor of Ius Chasma, one branch of the giant Valles Marineris system of canyons. The image illustrates a variety of processes that have shaped the Martian surface. There are bedrock exposures of layered materials, which could be sedimentary rocks deposited in water or from the air. Some of the bedrock has been faulted and folded, perhaps the result of large-scale forces in the crust or from a giant landslide. The darker unit of material at right includes many rocks. The image resolves rocks as small as 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter. At bottom right are a few dunes or ridges of windblown sand. If a person was located on this part of Mars, he or she would just barely be visible in this image.

Image TRA_000823_1720 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on September 29, 2006. The full image(shown at top) is centered at -7.8 degrees latitude, 279.5 degrees East longitude. The image is oriented such that north is to the top. The range to the target site was 297 km (185.6 miles). At this distance the image scale is 29.7 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~89 cm across are resolved. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:30 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 59.7 degrees, thus the sun was about 30.3 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 113.6 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer / Southern Winter.

Images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment and additional information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are available online at the following websites:

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JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.