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First Super Close-Up Pictures of Mars 130

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the extreme-close-up dept.
Alien54 writes "The most powerful camera ever to orbit Mars will get its first close look at the Red Planet on Friday. The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera flying aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will relay its first low-altitude images to scientists at The University of Arizona beginning September 29. User-friendly web tools will be available to both the science community and the public to view/analyze HiRISE images and to submit observation requests. Processed images will be released soon after acquisition to allow everyone to share in the scientific discovery process. By combining very high resolution and signal-to-noise ratio with a large swath width, it is possible to for images to be collected on scales down to 1 meter."
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First Super Close-Up Pictures of Mars

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  • Ummm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Max Threshold (540114) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @05:23AM (#16212025)
    Aren't the Mars rovers "super close up"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yeah, but with the rover pictures all you see is the same old thing: sand and rocks. Now, with these cool new ones, there's a qualitative difference: they show rocks and sand.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        And blueberries [nasa.gov]. Don't forget the blueberries [spaceflightnow.com] found by the Opportunity rover.

        Mmmm.... blueberries [marstoday.com]. Must ... get ... breakfast.
    • I think there is a confusion between close-up and high resolution telephoto from orbit.

      I think super close up, I think of the microscope shots of the rock worked on with the abrading tool.

      This orbiting camera does not have shots that are more close up than that.
      With the mention of a 1 meter resolution, I have my doubts that they could even find the abraded rock.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Close ups, or super close ups, are matters of opinion. Only when a photo is made with 1:1 magnification do you have any sort of strict definition, and then you have a Macro.


        Photos taken through a microscope are properly called photomicrographs and they can have all sorts of different magnifications.

        I don't know if this furthers anyone's understanding of the subject matter but I though I would point it out.

        • Close ups, or super close ups, are matters of opinion.

          Most amature and semi pro photographers don't have any trouble knowing the close up lens from the telephoto lens. ;-)
    • by s_p_oneil (795792)
      Yes, but their range is rather limited. They can't exactly check out the poles AND the equator AND that rock formation that looks like a face.
    • My first thought, too [space.com].
      • Examining the long query string in the above URL, I realized how much fun could be had with the clever captioning space.com allows: like this [space.com]. (Scroll down to the caption below the image)
        • by rts008 (812749)
          All the way from Fresno?!?!
          Wow, that's truly a breakthrough! (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/27/13322 22)

          *ducks and runs*
    • by rkoot (557181)
      so they're gonna crash this highres camera into mars as well?
  • Not Really the First (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @05:24AM (#16212035) Journal
    First Super Close-Up Pictures of Mars
    Look, I love and worship NASA as much as the next American but I must point out that (from another Slashdot article [slashdot.org]) the ESA's Mars Express has used a High Resolution Stereo Camera on selected areas at a super resolution of 2 metres/pixel [esa.int].

    Now, 1 meter resolution might be twice as good as 2 meter resolution but my dumbass isn't going to know the difference. My point is that those are two very high resolutions so I think the Mars Express gets the credit of being the first to get super close-up pictures. Don't worry, American's will not be out done by Europeans -- there will not be a super resolution images of mars gap! Every American will now be proud to say that their screensaver takes up roughly twice the amount of room as their European counterpart. :-)

    In all seriousness though, these images would be very useful for selecting landing sites for more missions and possibly manned missions in the very far future. The MRO and Mars Express seem to have very similar objectives -- studying the composition of Mars, it's weather, atmosphere & geology -- I wonder if they couldn't have been a combined effort for an even greater return. Then again, I'm just glad both of them are fulfilling their goals instead of both burning up on entry due to a conversion of units error.
    • Now, 1 meter resolution might be twice as good as 2 meter resolution but my dumbass isn't going to know the difference

      Unless you are trying to image something a couple of metres across, like a lander. Then the doubled resolution makes all the difference.

      • Indeed. Then the lander will be two pixels wide, instead of one!

        Twice the resolution. Are dumbasses going to care? Remember, we're talking roughly about the difference between "." and, well, something half that size.

        Well done and all on getting a "super-high" resolution camera over Mars, but it's pathetic hyperbole to present it how they have. Whereis the cutoff point between a normal high resolution camera and a "super-high" one, anyway?
        • Then the lander will be two pixels wide, instead of one!

          More to the point, it will be four pixels square.

          • Precisely- double the resolution and you multiply up the detail/pixel count greatly. 9px wide objects go from 81 pixels to 324 pixels from a 9*9 grid to an 18*18 grid
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tim C (15259)
          Whereis the cutoff point between a normal high resolution camera and a "super-high" one, anyway?

          When you're writing press releases, it's just to the lower resolution side of what you just deployed. When you're writing grant proposals, it's just to the higher resolution side of what you currently have deployed.
      • mars express is better than what we had (just as previous gens were), but the truth is, that we need a far finer resolution for the simple purpose of finding a good landing site. Except for viking, the bulk of the landers have been bouncers (i.e. designed to withstand several meter rocks) or parachutes. Of course, the polar lander (which failed) was designed to land similar to the viking; that is under power. The problem is, that a 1-2 meter boulder can cause an issue. But the next generation lander will be
        • You are completely on the mark except for your conclusion. MRO resolution is better than Mars Express. In fact the HiRISE pictures have been accelerated in the mission in order to provide inputs to the Phoenix Lander. This is a stated purpose of the mission and will continue for as long as possible (probably about Phoenix launch).
          Another important point is that MRO is in a consistently lower orbit than Mars Express. The MRO orbit is nearly circular and is never higher than about 350 km. This means that
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

      Look, I love and worship NASA as much as the next American but I must point out that (from another Slashdot article) the ESA's Mars Express has used a High Resolution Stereo Camera on selected areas at a super resolution of 2 metres/pixel.

      Now, 1 meter resolution might be twice as good as 2 meter resolution but my dumbass isn't going to know the difference. My point is that those are two very high resolutions so I think the Mars Express gets the credit of being the first to get super close-up pictures. Don't

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by 10Ghz (453478)
        "On the one hand there will probably be more human traffic on Mars for the forseeable future than on all the other planets of our solar system combined"

        People on Earth: 6+ billion
        People on Mars: 0

        I think you are missing something pretty obvious here :).
        • by GooberToo (74388)
          Who are these moderators and where do they come from? The post was obviously "funny" and not "insightful". Do these moderators actually think the mars rovers were created by aliens? If the rovers were not created by aliens, then I think it's safe to say, human traffic exists on Mars.

          To bad we can't meta moderate the moderators as "moron". Seriously guys...the poster has a friggen smiley face after his comment! What other clues do you guys require to figure things out. Are critical thinking skills no l
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by mph (7675)

            Who are these moderators and where do they come from? The post was obviously "funny" and not "insightful". Do these moderators actually think the mars rovers were created by aliens? If the rovers were not created by aliens, then I think it's safe to say, human traffic exists on Mars.

            No, they're working around a perceived deficiency in Slashdot's moderation system. A "Funny +1" moderation doesn't increase the poster's karma, but an "Insightful +1" moderation does. This inconsistency can also lead to thin

            • by GooberToo (74388)
              That's on purpose! Making jokes does not contribute to a discussion. Thusly, if it is funny, others may want to see it but getting points for not contributing to the subject matter just doesn't make sense.

              Sorry, -100 insightful for you.
      • On the other hand running many duplicate missions in parallel or gunning for the bragging rights of having the piece of some type of equipment on Mars seems pretty futile since it does nothing to advance science.

        They are not duplicate missions at all!

        In fact they are petty much very complementary: if you carefully compare the list of instruments you'll find different instruments or similar instruments that complement each other. E.g.: the Sub-surface Sounding Radar of the European mission can go down t

      • by anaesthetica (596507) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @12:45PM (#16216213) Homepage Journal
        As a European, I'm kind of ambivalent about this.

        That just about sums it up, doesn't it?

      • by rts008 (812749)
        I also hope this does not become a bragging rights battle.

        I think the spin on this may have been due to USA traditionally feeling dominate in the "space race" after Apollo 11, not a slur on EU. More to ease the wounded pride I guess.

        (disclaimer: I am an American-USA, and grew up with NASA- both my father, then I worked for NASA and "space: the final frontier" as always been a keen interest.

        Okay, we followed in your footsteps, and got double resolution pic's.
        Groundbraeking in itself? Not likely. Helpful to
    • Every American will now be proud to say that their screensaver takes up roughly twice the amount of room as their European counterpart.

      2x2=4. Doubling the resolution is 4 times the pixels ^^

      But, yes, I am excited about Friday, too.

    • by Andr T. (1006215)
      I still don't see Santa Claus or Green People. They can do better than 1m x 1m.

      And, anyway, NASA uses metric system now? Where's the American Imperial proud?
    • by FroBugg (24957)
      1 meter resolution is actually four times as good as 2 meter resolution. We're dealing with areas here, so a pixel should be one square meter as opposed to four square meters.
    • I wonder if they couldn't have been a combined effort for an even greater return. Then again, I'm just glad both of them are fulfilling their goals instead of both burning up on entry due to a conversion of units error.

      Since Mars Express used an earlier launch opportunity shared by the Mars Rovers your suggestion is pointless. Also MRO is collaborating with the Italian Space Agency with the Subsurface Radar [nasa.gov] experiment. Otherwise NASA collaboration with ESA is on the wane [thespacereview.com] for many reasons.

    • by JesusPGT (624264)
      Mars Express may have had really great resolution, but unlike NASA, the ESA doesn't release raw images to the public from their spacecraft. They may do it in tidbits (I'm sure there's been one or two instances of it that I am not aware of), but not nearly on the same level as what NASA offers. I have tried, in the past, to contact the ESA regarding making full-resolution, raw images available. They said that they don't offer that sort of thing. Contrast this to something like the twin rovers, where it's eas
      • And if anyone has ever stumbled upon the big online archive of the Mars Global Surveyor images, they would be amazed at the sheer amount of raw image data that is available.

        Or here [msss.com]. I agree. The NASA missions are very open about releasing raw data. It is something to be proud of.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shooter6947 (148693)

      I don't know where this 1 meter stuff came from. The actual full sampling of HiRISE is 30cm [arizona.edu], a factor of 6 greater than HRSC, and a factor of 3 better than MOC. Be careful when comparing "sampling" to "resolution" -- they are not the same thing. HiRISE has taken the HiROAD, so to speak, by not trumpeting their 30cm sampling but instead claiming 1-meter imaging scales. Don't hold that against them when comparing to other teams that publish their best sampling.

      The other real advantage of this camera is

    • Now, 1 meter resolution might be twice as good as 2 meter resolution but my dumbass isn't going to know the difference.

      Wait, you have a dumbass? How much do those cost - I have a management position open right now!
  • This is news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jarnis (266190) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @05:27AM (#16212059)
    The pictures released so far are from the first tests of the camera - done last MARCH.

    New pictures will start coming soon (november?), as the orbit circularization has been completed, but none has been released yet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ShakaZ (1002825)
      Of course they still need to photoshop the thousands of images to remove the green creatures & their buildings... double the resolution, 4x more work, add to that Nasa's funding that's far from what it once was...
    • It's true there are no picture yet, but that's clear from the article and even the header on /. But as the article states images will be taken beginning Friday and I'm willing to bet some of those will be released to the public. I fact I'm certain of it.
  • by fantomas (94850) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @05:29AM (#16212067)
    As opposed to ? ... The most power camera to orbit Mars since last Wednesday .. for example?

    fantastic headline, "the most powerful camera ever"... :-)
  • Google (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kurayamino-X (557754) <.ten.itiffarg. .ta. .onimayaruK.> on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @05:41AM (#16212109)
    How long untill they're on google mars [google.com]?
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @05:58AM (#16212191)
    it should show up as a pixel at least...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eclectro (227083)
      it should show up as a pixel at least..

      It'll probably be more than a pixel. Like an itty bitty crater with junk near the edges.

      Look, here's the picture already--> o*
    • I heard Mike Malin, founder of the company makes the cameras, identify some likely Beagle sites with the previous orbitor. These were three or four pixels at best. The new camera could increase this to 20 pixels. Both rovers, their platforms and heat sheilds have been seen with the older camera.
  • by RulerOf (975607) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @06:10AM (#16212235)
    ...That we'll finally be able to determine if the hand that belongs to that face on the Martian surface is giving us the finger.
  • Lens Hood (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 07734 (947149)
    The pictures of the camera being used feature a lens hood with coverage on only one side. This confuses me. Surely when the camera is pointing down, as in the illustration, and the satellite is orbiting, the lens hood would need shield light to protect from flares at all angles (like a conventional camera's lens hood). Anyone care to shoot me down and explain?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
      Try this at home. Turn on a lamp in your house. Pretend it is the sun. Now take a tennis ball and pretend it is Mars.

      Turn off all other lights in your house and close all the windows so that the only light sources are the light coming from the lamp and whatever left-over LEDs are blinking on your router or VCR or wherever. If you want to block out peripheral light that has a chance to cause lens flare, you only need to block the light coming from the lamp. Since this is space we're talking about, there aren
      • by maxume (22995)
        If the tennis ball keeps it's orientation with the lamp, and I am moving rapidly about the tennis ball while keeping my orientation with the tennis ball(presumably they keep the camera pointed at Mars), aren't I changing my orientation relative to the lamp all the time?

        So what's the advantage of keeping tracking the orientation of the satelite relative to the Sun versus having a complete hood?
        • Believe me when I tell you that I haven't got the slightest idea why NASA engineers would do that instead of what you suggested. My best guess is that the missing piece of lens hood probably fell off when it collided with the launch pad during takeoff.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The reason is that a complete hood will cause glare/lens flare from the light reflected off of the inside of the sides of the hood exposed to the sun.

          Setup your lamp and tennis ball. Now point a camera with a full hood at the tennis ball. Notice that parts of the inside of your hood will be illuminated by the lamp. This will cause major light pollution for a highly sensitive camera.
          • by maxume (22995)
            Right, that makes perfect sense, thanks.
          • This worthless AC has an informative answer to an observant geek who posed a deliciously nerdy question about the camera's operation. TFA is about the camera, slashdot is for nerds, how the hell is it OT?

            I could go on, but I am busting to play with my balls and camera!
        • by notyou2 (202944)
          So what's the advantage of keeping tracking the orientation of the satelite relative to the Sun versus having a complete hood?

          Having a sun-synchronous orbit allows you to keep your solar panels under predictable illumination.

  • Hey, we can see your lander from here!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by astralbat (828541)
      Seriously, this really could allow us to see what happened with the ill fated Beagle 2 lander. I for one am curious.
  • ...we'll finally be able to identify the Transformer who vandalized the Mars Rover?

    I bet it was frickin' Starscream, that bitch.

  • Craters? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Andrewkov (140579) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @09:19AM (#16213479)
    I'm not an astronomy buff, so this might be a stupid question. But why are there so many craters on Mars? Doesn't the atmosphere protect the planet like here on Earth? It appears that there are almost as many craters as on the Moon. I guess the atmosphere is very thin on Mars.
    • There aren't nearly as many craters on Mars as there are on, say, the Moon. One reason is that, yes, the atmosphere protects Mars from a lot of the smaller impacts. But more important, the atmosphere generates dust and moves it around the planet like a big ol' scouring pad, so eventually erosion gets rid of a lot of traces.

      But the atmosphere is much, much thinner (I think just a few percent of Earth's atmosphere). Plus, Earth has a lot of other erosion effects (water and plate tectonics) that are absent
    • Re:Craters? (Score:4, Informative)

      by bdeclerc (129522) on Wednesday September 27, 2006 @10:21AM (#16214291) Homepage
      Actually, while the Earth's atmosphere does prevent the formation of the smallest craters, the main reason Earth has far fewer craters than Mars is that the Earth's surface is, on average, much much younger than Mars' surface. Most cratering occured very early in the existence of the solar system, and on Earth erosion and continental drift mean that practically nowhere on Earth can we find a surface that is as old as the early cratering periods. Even the oldest rocks on Earth (in locations such as Canada, South-Africa & Australia) may be old, but they were not always at the surface.

      On Mars, there never was any real "rebuilding" of the surface at the scale of what happened on Earth (except for some volcanism, wind erosion and water erosion). This means Mars retains almost all the ancient craters which on Earth have long disappeared.

      Now, besides that, Mars' atmosphere is only about 1% of Earth's, and as such, is also much less capable of slowing down meteoroids, so on Mars, craters can form which are considerably smaller than the smallest that can form on Earth, because meteoroids small enough to burn up in Earth's atmosphere would still reach the surface at orbital velocities on Mars.

      So, basically, plate-tectonics, erosion and a bigger atmospheric shield are all reasons why Earth has far fewer craters than Mars.
    • by Nuroman (588959)
      IANAA, however I would venture a guess that the atmosphere on Mars does provide some measure of protection against surface impacts by meteorites. However, the reason that so many impact craters are visible on the surface of Mars as compared to the Earth is a combination of two factors, time and erosion. On Mars there is no liquid water to erode the craters as there is on Earth, where visible impacts have been nearly completely erased by water and wind erosion over thousands or millions of years.
    • There is no significant atmosphere on Mars (as there is on Earth). Researchers postulate that the core of Mars shutdown at some point in the distant past, and when that occured there was no magnetic field to protect the atmosphere from being blown away by the solar wind.
    • by Temposs (787432)
      I'm no astronomy buff either, but I think I can answer this. Yes, Mars' thinner atmosphere contributes to it having a significant amount of craters. What also contributes(when compared to Earth) is the lack of liquid water and biological life on the surface. On Earth these are not only major erosion factors, but they also just cover a lot of the surface, so that craters formed on Earth just aren't visible, or aren't visible for very long.
    • by Shadowlore (10860)
      I'm not an astronomy buff, so this might be a stupid question. But why are there so many craters on Mars? Doesn't the atmosphere protect the planet like here on Earth? It appears that there are almost as many craters as on the Moon. I guess the atmosphere is very thin on Mars.

      About ten seconds on google or wikipedia would give you an answer.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars#Atmosphere [wikipedia.org]
  • Now maybe we can find where Saddam hid his WMDs.
  • User-friendly web tools will be available to both the science community and the public to view/analyze HiRISE images and to submit observation requests.
    Greaaaat. Now the nutcases can start submitting their "discovered" ancient Martian bases directly to NASA!
  • At what point will Barbra Streisand file a lawsuit against them, for posting pictures of her Mars colony?

    http://www.californiacoastline.org/streisand/lawsu it.html [californiacoastline.org]
  • "That rock looks only meters away! No, I mean yardss... AW CRAP NOT AGAIN!"
  • So why can't they use a camera like this to photograph the Apollo landing site, the lunar rover, etc?

    • by Yunzil (181064)
      They can, but why bother? Mars is much more geologically interesting than the moon.
  • As far as I can see the submitter did not provide a link to the actual press release announcing the details so here it is. [uanews.org]
  • I hope this doesn't start up another barrage of shitty Mars movies...Red Planet, Mission to Mars, Ghosts of Mars...
  • by Tarlus (1000874)
    Go U of A!
  • ...can they look for my car. I parked it somewhere there (I think) last night and couldn't find it after I got out of the bar. It's a VW Bug, license 5773MH

  • New images have been taken today and are online!

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