The HiRISE camera is the most powerful telescope to have left Earth orbit. As such, it is capable of some interesting astronomical observations.
This image of Jupiter and its major satellites (10 MB)
was acquired to calibrate the pointing and color response of the camera. An oversight in planning this unusual observation put the focus mechanism in the wrong location, blurring the image. This does not detract from the calibration objectives, but makes the raw image less esthetic.
To compensate, the image has been "sharpened" on the ground by Dennis Gallagher, the HiRISE chief optical designer. With this sharpening, and because Mars is closer to Jupiter than Earth is, this image has comparable resolution as the Hubble Space Telescope's pictures of Jupiter.
The colors are not what is seen by the human eye because HiRISE is able to detect light with a slightly longer wavelength than we can (that is, the infrared).
While there is no standard observation geometry, this image was acquired on 11 January 2007, 2102 spacecraft event time to be precise.
Written by: Laszlo Kestay (31 January 2007)