NASA Mars Picture of the Day: 9 Years at Mars!


Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera
MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-1583, 12 September 2006

Medium-sized view of MGS MOC Picture of the Day, updated daily
NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) has now been orbiting Mars for 9 years! It was the evening of 11 September 1997, Pacific Daylight time, but it was early in the morning on 12 September 1997, Greenwich Mean Time, when MGS fired its engines to slow down and drop into an elliptical orbit around Mars. The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) began acquiring its first images just a few days later.

Today, the MGS MOC remains extremely healthy and ready to begin its 10th year of operations. The dramatic MOC narrow angle camera image presented here was acquired in June 2006. It shows a crater that has been encroached by a field of dark, windblown sand dunes in the Syrtis Major volcanic region of Mars. The area downwind of the crater (to the left/lower left) is free of dunes because the raised rim of the crater prevented winds from causing sand to be deposited in the crater's lee.

Location near: 7.3°N, 292.4°W
Image width: ~3 km (~1.9 mi)
Illumination from: upper left
Season: Northern Spring

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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, California. 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, California and Denver, Colorado.

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