Mars Polar Lander
Mars Descent Imager (MARDI)

MARDI Descent Imaging Scenario (Pre-landing)

MPL MARDI Release No. MARDI99-02, 2 December 1999


Simulated MARDI Descent MPEG (~3 MB)

The last two minutes of Mars Polar Lander's December 3rd descent to the martian surface will be captured in a series of images taken by MARDI, the Mars Decent Imager. This time-lapse animation shows what the final descent may look like from MARDI's perspective.

The "video" is presented at twice the speed of expected descent. Three types of images are acquired by MARDI, and these are shown as they are acquired in the upper right: 4 small images capture the heatshield jettison in a 2 second period, followed by as many as 16 full-frame pictures taken every 5.3 seconds before the descent engined begin firing, and as many as 10 pictures taken every 4 seconds during terminal descent.

The images used to make this simulated descent movie are derived from Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images of the polar landing zone obtained over the past few months. The images were generated from topographic information derived from MOC images of the frost-covered surface. The simulation of landing is based upon the predicted behavior of the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft during its final descent on December 3, 1999.

Video Credit:

Produced by Malin Space Science Systems

M. Malin, MARDI Principal Investigator
J. Warren, MARDI Software Engineer


MSSS Image Use Policy

Malin Space Science Systems built the MARDI and operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Polar Lander spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO. The Mars Volatiles and Climate Surveyor (MVACS) science payload is operated from a facility at the University of California, Los Angeles.