Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)

MGS MOC at End of Primary Mission -- Start of Extended Mission

MGS MOC Releases MOC2-269 to MOC2-278, 31 January 2001

Mars Global Surveyor's (MGS) main goal was to gather observations of the red planet over the course of one martian year (about 687 Earth days). On January 31, 2001, the Primary Mission of MGS was "officially" declared complete. For the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), this means that we have tracked a full cycle of martian seasons--from summer to autumn to winter and to spring, in the process acquiring more than 80,000 MOC images.

Among the most exciting MOC images were those that revealed gullies that appear to have formed in relatively recent times. Still others showed vast layered outcrops of sedimentary rock that could very well indicate places where ancient martian lakes once existed. Other MOC images provided new mysteries, such as the enigmatic "swiss cheese" patterns of the south polar cap.

The earliest MOC images were acquired when MGS was approaching Mars in mid-1997. The first MOC images from orbit in late 1997 were of lower resolution and somewhat blurry relative to those that would come later, because the Mapping orbit was not to be achieved until March 1999. The first Mapping images--from March 1999--were spectacular.

Here we present 10 new MOC image releases. More than half of these are pictures obtained in the past month, some were received on the ground just in the past few days, after we had already begun to prepare these materials for their January 31st release.

These pictures underscore the fact that MOC reveals new martian landscapes each and every day. The MGS mission is far from over---indeed, from a MOC perspective, it is really just beginning. While the MGS Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) and Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) have mapped the entire planet, MOC's high resolution camera has barely seen 1% of the martian surface. New surprises can come at any time. The Extended Mission phase, which starts February 1, 2001, is scheduled to continue to at least April 2002. During this phase, the MOC team will get to routinely point the spacecraft to image specific places on Mars, something that was done very infrequently during the Primary Mission.

With MOC, it is quite possible that the best may yet be to come.

Spallanzani Crater

1 Mars Year

Layers & Gullies

Winter Kaiser

Airy-0 Crater

Proctor Dunes

Cydonia "Face"

Lyot Crater

Hellas Planitia

Becquerel Layers

MSSS Image Use Policy

Malin Space Science Systems, Inc.