Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera
Mariner 4 Meets Mars Global Surveyor--Mariner Crater 1965 and 1999
MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-98, 18 March 1999
Mars exploration in the last half of the 20th Century comes full circle
with a modern view of Mariner Crater obtained by the Mars Global Surveyor
(MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) in early March 1999.
Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to reach the red planet and take
close-up pictures that revealed its ancient, cratered surface. The
picture on the left, above, is the 11th image taken by Mariner 4 during
its July 1965 flyby. The center of the Mariner 4 image is dominated by
a crater that is about 155 kilometers (96 miles) in diameter and located
at 32°S latitude and 164°W longitude. The crater was named "Mariner"
in 1967 by the International Astronomical Union
in honor of its discovery by Mariner 4. The white arrow indicates
the location of the new MGS MOC image.
The picture on the right represents an improvement in resolution of
almost a factor of 400. It shows a view of a tiny portion of the
southeastern floor of Mariner Crater, as it appeared to the MGS MOC in
1999. In 1965, it was a surprise to find that the martian surface is
pocked with craters. In 1999, using the MGS MOC, we now have the
ability to see objects the size of automobiles on the martian surface.
This view of the Mariner Crater floor has a spatial resolution of 1.5
meters (5 feet) per pixel and covers an area only 1.5 km (0.9 mi) wide
by 2.2 km (1.4 mi) long. Illumination is from the upper left in both
the Mariner and MGS images. For a mercator-projected Viking 1 Orbiter
view of this crater (obtained in 1978), click here .
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.
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