High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment
HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) has photographed hundreds of targeted swaths of Mars' surface in unprecedented detail.
The camera operates in visible wavelengths, the same as human eyes, but with a telescopic lens that produces images at resolutions never before seen in planetary exploration missions. These high-resolution images enable scientists to distinguish 1-meter-size (about 3-foot-size) objects on Mars and to study the morphology (surface structure) in a much more comprehensive manner than ever before.
HiRISE also makes observations at near-infrared wavelengths to obtain information on the mineral groups present. From an altitude that varies from 200 to 400 kilometers (about 125 to 250 miles) above Mars, HiRISE acquires surface images containing individual, basketball-size (30 to 60 centimeters, or 1 to 2 feet wide) pixel elements, allowing surface features 4 to 8 feet across to be resolved. These new, high-resolution images are providing unprecedented views of layered materials, gullies, channels, and other science targets, in addition to characterizing possible future landing sites.
Areas for close-up HiRISE imaging are selected on the basis of data returned from Mars Global Surveyor , Mars Odyssey, and regional surveys conducted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's own instruments.
The Principal Investigator (lead scientist) for HiRISE is Alfred McEwen from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.
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