A Caltech Library Service

Mars Observer Camera

Malin, M. C. and Danielson, G. E. and Ingersoll, A. P. and Masursky, H. and Veverka, J. and Ravine, M. A. and Soulanille, T. A. (1992) Mars Observer Camera. Journal of Geophysical Research E, 97 (E5). pp. 7699-7718. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/92JE00340.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


The Mars Observer camera (MOC) is a three-component system (one narrow-angle and two wide-angle cameras) designed to take high spatial resolution pictures of the surface of Mars and to obtain lower spatial resolution, synoptic coverage of the planet's surface and atmosphere. The cameras are based on the “push broom” technique; that is, they do not take “frames” but rather build pictures, one line at a time, as the spacecraft moves around the planet in its orbit. MOC is primarily a telescope for taking extremely high resolution pictures of selected locations on Mars. Using the narrow-angle camera, areas ranging from 2.8 km × 2.8 km to 2.8 km × 25.2 km (depending on available internal digital buffer memory) can be photographed at about 1.4 m/pixel. Additionally, lower-resolution pictures (to a lowest resolution of about 11 m/pixel) can be acquired by pixel averaging; these images can be much longer, ranging up to 2.8 × 500 km at 11 m/pixel. High-resolution data will be used to study sediments and sedimentary processes, polar processes and deposits, volcanism, and other geologic/geomorphic processes. The MOC wide-angle cameras are capable of viewing Mars from horizon to horizon and are designed for low-resolution global and intermediate resolution regional studies. Low-resolution observations can be made every orbit, so that in a single 24-hour period a complete global picture of the planet can be assembled at a resolution of at least 7.5 km/pixel. Regional areas (covering hundreds of kilometers on a side) may be photographed at a resolution of better than 250 m/pixel at the nadir. Such images will be particularly useful in studying time-variable features such as lee clouds, the polar cap edge, and wind streaks, as well as acquiring stereoscopic coverage of areas of geological interest. The limb can be imaged at a vertical and along-track resolution of better than 1.5 km. Different color filters within the two wide-angle cameras permit color images of the surface and atmosphere to be made to distinguish between clouds and the ground and between clouds of different composition.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Ingersoll, A. P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Additional Information:© 1992 by the American Geophysical Union. Received 6 May 1991; revised February 10, 1992; accepted 12 February 1992. The Mars Observer camera is the first PI camera developed for a planetary mission in 25 years. The team expresses its appreciation to W. Quaide for his support in the premission instrument definition period and B. Edelson for selecting the camera despite concerns over the costs of imaging experiments. W. Purdy, D. Evans, T. Thorpe, A. Albee, F. Palluconi, and especially G. Reisdorf have provided strong support for the camera since the inception of the Mars Observer Project. The MOC would not exist without the efforts of N. Evans and D. Carter (California Institute of Technology), D. Michna (Arizona State University), and G. Robinson (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). M.C.M. (principal investigator) acknowledges premission support through Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program (PIDDP) grants NAGW-524 and NASW-4075, and Mars Observer JPL contract 957575.
Group:UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Issue or Number:E5
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121213-071423568
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Malin, M. C., G. E. Danielson, A. P. Ingersoll, H. Masursky, J. Veverka, M. A. Ravine, and T. A. Soulanille (1992), Mars Observer camera, J. Geophys. Res., 97(E5), 7699–7718, doi:10.1029/92JE00340.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35968
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:13 Dec 2012 15:38
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page