NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The best time of year to obtain images of the floor of the vast Hellas Planitia impact basin occurs in mid to late southern autumn. At that time of year, the atmosphere over this deep basin is clear and the solar illumination conditions are ideal. Hellas was in this ideal period during July-September 2004. This August 2004 Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows the eroded floor of a portion of the basin. Hellas has some of the lowest elevations on the planet. This image is located near 39.3°S, 302.8°W. The image covers an area about 3 km (1.9 mi) wide and sunlight illuminates the scene from the upper left.
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.