Mars Global Surveyor snaps its 100,000th image
Posted: November 22, 2001

Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was launched from Earth just over five years ago on November 7, 1996. It began to orbit Mars on September 12, 1997. After slightly more than four years in orbit, we have now received our 100,000th image from the MGS Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). For comparison, the Viking 1 and Viking 2 orbiters together returned ~55,000 images during the time they were operational from 1976 to 1980. The Vikings returned about 70 Gbytes of data; MOC has returned 163 Gbytes (after decompression).

Photo: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
MOC's 100,000th image, E10-00678 (above), was received on November 5, 2001. The 100,000th image is located near 24.2 degrees N, 127.4 degrees W, in Cyane Sulci, a grouping of ridges northeast of the giant volcano, Olympus Mons. The picture shows a valley running diagonally from near the upper right to the lower left, the floor of which is covered by windblown dunes. The slopes on either side of the valley show dark streaks of debris that have slid down from the surrounding ridges. The image has fairly low contrast and a streaked appearance because the atmosphere of Mars was still somewhat hazy following a series of large dust storms that nearly obscured the planet between July and October 2001. The image is illuminated from the lower left and covers an area 1.5 km (0.9 mi) across.

To date, more than two-thirds of all MOC images, covering the first year and a half of pre-mapping operations and the first full Mars year of mapping, have been carefully examined, validated, cataloged, and archived with the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS). To view these first 78,000+ MOC images, visit the MOC Gallery. Work is on-going to similarly process data being collected during the "extended mission" presently underway, which will be archived in future deliveries to the PDS.

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.