January was a particularly eventful month for HiRISE. Let’s hit the HiLights (in no particular order).
#1. A special issue of the journal Icarus was devoted entirely to HiRISE. It contains over twenty scientific papers produced using HiRISE as a primary data source, representing years of research by dozens of scientists. You can find out more by reading our press release.
A plot of HiRISE stereo observations in Tharsis and Valles Marinaris
#2. We observed the Phoenix Lander in springtime, as frost slowly melted around its landing site. There was some small hope that Phoenix would be attempting to awake from ‘Lazarus’ mode but evidently the Mars Odyssey orbiter has not heard its signal.
The Phoenix Mars Lander as of January 2010
Active dust flow caught by HiRISE
#4. Our image of ancient viscous flows on the floor of Mars’s largest impact basin stood out (to me). “HiRISE images are revealing some very strange landforms on the floor of Hellas,” says HiRISE P.I. Alfred McEwen. You can read more in the caption for ‘Contortions on the Floor of Hellas Basin‘.
An section of a Hellas Basin flow in 3-D
#5. Our first DTM’s were released, the initial results of a very labor-intensive process. These precise 3-D maps provide a wealth of information for scientists. But in addition, they will make for very cool simulated fly-over movies. Doug Ellison of UMSF has published some on his youtube page. In a related effort, UMSF user Bernhard Braun produced 3-D HiRISE data using photoclinometry (”shape from shading”).
Doug Ellison’s fly-thru of Candor Chasma
#6. HiWish, our public suggestion page, was made available to great fanfare (thanks). We’ve received over 700 target suggestions in the ten days since launching it, and some of these are already being planned as upcoming observations.
Adding a new target in HiWish on the slopes of Olympus Mons
#7. Mars and Earth made their closest approach of the year, at a distance of about six light minutes. Thus, MRO is in the middle of a high data rate period. HiRISE has been making the most of this, taking 20-30 images per day lately.
Plot of observations received vs. time (includes calibration images)