Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Students image Martian valleys and boulders
Posted: February 20, 2001

During the Week of February 11 to 16, an international team of nine Student Scientists -- ages 10-15 -- visited Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California, as part of The Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission.

An overview of the area. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS
On Monday, February 12th, the students targeted three high resolution images to be obtained by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). The commands were uplinked to the MGS spacecraft on Tuesday, February 13th, and the pictures were acquired Wednesday, February 14th. On Thursday, February 15th, the pictures were received on Earth and the nine Student Scientists selected portions of their images for release at a student press conference on Friday, February 16th.

Nilosyrtis Mensae valleys and boulders in the fretted terrain. Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS SEE FULL PAGE IMAGE
Red Rover Science Team Caption: "This image was taken in the fretted terrain area located in the middle latitudes of Mars. Interesting features in this area are dunes, valleys, and mysterious black boulders that are as big as 15 to 25 meters (49 to 82 feet). The puzzling position of these mysterious rocks and the lack of our ability to understand how they got there reminds us how much there is still left to discover about our mystery planet."

The upper picture is a portion of MGS MOC narrow angle image E01-00878. The lower picture is the MOC wide angle red context frame with a white box indicating the location of the high resolution sub-frame. The pictures were acquired February 14, 2001, are located at 31.2N, 289.5W, and are illuminated from the left. The high resolution image covers an area 3 km by 4.9 km (1.9 mi by 3.0 mi) at 3.7 meters (12 feet) per pixel; the context frame covers 115 km by 115 km (71 mi by 71 mi) at 240 meters (787 feet) per pixel.

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.