ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
   computing
   personal technology
   space
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
Space

banner

High-resolution images help prepare for Mars landing

iconINTERACTIVE:
3-D Mars images
iconINTERACTIVE 3-D VRML
Manipulate the Mars Global Surveyor

InteractiveALSO:
   Message Board: Destination Mars
  

June 28, 1999
Web posted at: 8:49 p.m. EDT (0049 GMT)

By Robin Lloyd
CNN Interactive Senior Writer

(CNN) -- Things aren't always as they seem on Mars.

Some of the latest images from NASA's Global Surveyor mapping mission around the red planet are making that abundantly clear, a group of scientists and engineers interested in NASA's Mars mission set for a 2001 launch learned recently.

"With the high resolution Mars Orbiter Camera images, things that look smooth at low resolution appear very rough from high resolution and vice versa," said David Spencer, mission manager for the Mars 2001 mission.

Ken Edgett with Malin Space Science Systems, which operates the camera for NASA, compared some of the newest Mars images for the group that gathered last week in Buffalo, New York, with those taken from 1976 to 1980 by the two Viking landers.

The lesson for more than two thirds of the images was that Viking images alone might have led mission managers to choose an unsafe landing site, Spencer said.

"If you had no high resolution images and you tried to go someplace smooth from Viking images, you'd probably land someplace pretty rough and dangerous from a landing standpoint," he said.

Mars 2001, which will cost about $282 million to design, build, launch and operate initially, will include a three-legged lander and an orbiter. The orbiter will carry instruments to study gamma ray and heat emissions from the planet and construct a global map of the planet's elemental composition.

3-D Marineris
3-D Marineris   

The lander and orbiter also will carry radiation to study its possible effect for human missions to Mars. NASA has said missions to begin preparing infrastructure for human missions could start as early as 2013.

Currently, Lockheed Martin is building the lander and orbiter. Later this year, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will install its flight hardware in the spacecraft, Spencer said.

Mission planners have yet to select a final landing site for Mars 2001 but they have boiled it down to 40 possibilities, Spencer said. Those areas include the planet's ancient highlands, layered deposits in the Valles Marineris area, a region with a high concentration of the mineral hematite and some ancient lake beds - all near the equator.

"A safe landing is obviously the highest priority, because without a safe landing, there is no scientific return" Spencer said. "But we also want the site to have the highest possible scientific return."

The Global Surveyor pictures returned over the past four months are some of the highest resolution pictures ever taken of Mars.

The spacecraft, launched in November 1996, was designed as a replacement for a previous mission that failed to provide a massive amount of data regarding Mars' surface features, atmosphere and magnetic properties. The data will help scientists build a data set to aid in planning future missions.


Mars Board | Surveyor | Pathfinder | Future Missions | Interact | Multiplex

MESSAGE BOARD:
Destination Mars

RELATED STORIES:
From Mars, with love
June 18, 1999
NASA unveils first 3-D map of Mars
May 27, 1999
Hubble views massive cyclone on Mars
May 19, 1999
Researchers: Mars once hummed with magnetism, like Earth
April 29, 1999
Contest will send tiny student experiment to Mars
March 25, 1999
Mars' happy face: Have a nice planet!
March 12, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Mars Surveyor 98
Mars Global Surveyor - Welcome to Mars!
   •Mars Global Surveyor
   •MGS Movies and Pictures
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.