July 14, 2017

Episode 324: Documenting Mars For a Decade With the HiRISE Camera

A look at the people behind the mission, and potential future space scientists.

This weekend, scientists at the University of Arizona are celebrating more than a decade of photographing Mars.

In August 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched into orbit. Since then, it has been circling the red planet every 112 minutes. On board the orbiter is a camera by the name of HiRISE, or the “high resolution imaging science experiment. The team behind the camera include more than 25 scientists at the UA.

Over the last 10 years the camera has captured more than 50,000 images, some up to 20,000 by 60,000 pixels. The photographs are then processed at the UA

It takes about 15 minutes for data to get back to Earth. It’s then downloaded by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and processed into complete images at the UA. They’re delivered to a computer system, and student scientists are the first to see what comes back from Mars. Student scientists create digital terrain models, which are made from 3-D images.

Also on Arizona Week, hundreds of children make their way to the UA to explore science at Fusion Camp.

Learn more about the UA's Lunar and Planetary Labopen house on Saturday, the HiRISE mission, and the HiWish, where you can suggest photographs for the mission to take.

On the program

  • Alfred McEwen, HiRISE principal investigator
  • Daniel Robinson, Nick Porter, undergraduates working on HiRISE
  • Sarah Sutton, HiRISE graduate scientist
  • Noel Hensley, UA Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
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