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  NASA's MRO/HiRISE: Pick a pixel on Mars

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Author Topic:   NASA's MRO/HiRISE: Pick a pixel on Mars
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
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Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-20-2010 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Public Invited to Pick Pixels on Mars
Scientists Taking Suggestions on Where to Image the Red Planet Using NASA Satellite

The most powerful camera aboard a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars will soon be taking photo suggestions from the public.

Since arriving at Mars in 2006, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has recorded nearly 13,000 observations of the Red Planet's terrain. Each image covers dozens of square miles and reveal details as small as a desk. Now, anyone can nominate sites for pictures.

"The HiRISE team is pleased to give the public this opportunity to propose imaging targets and share the excitement of seeing your favorite spot on Mars at people-scale resolution," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the camera and a researcher at the University of Arizona.

The idea to take suggestions from the public follows through on the original concept of the HiRISE instrument, when its planners nicknamed it "the people's camera." The team anticipates that more people will become interested in exploring the Red Planet while their suggestions for imaging targets will increase the camera’s already bountiful science return. Despite the thousands of pictures already taken, less than 1 percent of the Martian surface has been imaged.

Students, researchers and others can view Mars maps using a new online tool to see where images have been taken, check which targets already have been suggested and make new suggestions.

"The process is fairly simple," said Guy McArthur, systems programmer on the HiRISE team at the University of Arizona. "With the tool, you can place your rectangle on Mars where you'd like."

McArthur developed the online tool, called "HiWish," with Ross Beyer, principal investigator and research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

In addition to identifying the location on a map, anyone nominating a target will be asked to give the observation a title, explain the potential scientific benefit of photographing the site and put the suggestion into one of the camera team's 18 science themes. The themes include categories such as impact processes, seasonal processes and volcanic processes.

The HiRISE science team will evaluate suggestions and put high-priority ones into a queue. Thousands of pending targets from scientists and the public will be imaged when the orbiter's track and other conditions are right.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Launched in August 2005, the orbiter reached Mars the following year to begin a two-year primary science mission. The spacecraft has found that Mars has had diverse wet environments at many locations for differing durations in the planet's history, and Martian climate-change cycles persist into the present era. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in an extended science phase and will continue to take several thousand images a year. The mission has returned more data about Mars than all other spacecraft combined.

"This opportunity opens up a new path to students and others to participate in ongoing exploration of Mars." said the mission's project scientist, Rich Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-31-2010 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Mars Spacecraft Snaps Photos Chosen by Public

The most powerful camera aboard a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars has returned the first pictures of locations on the Red Planet suggested by the public.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, is nicknamed, "the people's camera." Through a program called HiWish that began in January, scientists have received approximately 1,000 suggestions. The first eight images of areas the public selected are available online.

"NASA's Mars program is a prime example of what we call participatory exploration," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said. "To allow the public to aim a camera at a specific site on a distant world is an invaluable teaching tool that can help educate and inspire our youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math."

Since 2006, HiRISE has obtained approximately 13,000 observations covering dozens of square miles, including areas from a student-suggestion program called NASA Quest. However, only about 1 percent of the Martian surface has been photographed. The public is encouraged to recommend sites for the other 99 percent.

NASA has provided other opportunities for the public to see and explore Mars. A camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor imaged 1,086 targets suggested through a public-request program from 2003 until 2006. Launched on Nov. 7, 1996, the probe pioneered the use of aerobraking at Mars and mapped the surface. The original one-year mission was extended four times until November 2006.

"Some people get into model railroading or Civil War re-enactments. My thing is exploring Mars," said James Secosky, a retired teacher in Manchester, N.Y., who suggested an area for HiRISE imaging after he examined online images from other Mars-orbiting cameras.

Another camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has taken nearly 500 images after receiving approximately 1,400 suggestions through a public-request program initiated in 2009. Odyssey has been orbiting Mars since 2001. It serves as a communications relay for Mars rovers as well as making its own observations and discoveries.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on MRO. Launched in August 2005, the orbiter reached Mars the following year to begin a two-year primary science mission. The spacecraft has found that Mars has had diverse wet environments at many locations for differing durations in the planet's history, and Martian climate-change cycles persist into the present era. The mission is in an extended science phase. The spacecraft will continue to take several thousand images a year. The mission has returned more data about Mars than all other spacecraft to the Red Planet combined.

"What we hope is that people become more interested in science and appreciate this opportunity to explore another world," said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the camera at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "We appreciate fresh thinking outside the box and look for things we may not have chosen otherwise. It's good to have a lot of eyes on Mars."

The University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates the HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages MRO for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

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