J. Sandoval, E. Jensen, K. Supulver, K. Edgett, S. Davis, W. Gross,
R. Zimdar, L. Posiolova, M. Caplinger, J. Warren, and M. Malin (MSSS)
NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) has been in orbit around Mars since September 1997. The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) is one of 6 experiments on board MGS and has taken more than 75,000 images of the Martian surface. MOC consists of two wide angle cameras (one imaging through a 600nm red filter, the other through a 425nm blue filter), used to take daily global maps of the planet, observe weather changes, and provide context for the narrow angle images. The narrow angle camera -- an f/10 3.5m focal length telescope -- is used to acquire high resolution images of specific targets and randomly sample other terrain. MOC primarily looks nadir, but spacecraft slews can be commanded, for example, to examine landing sites and to measure focus performance by imaging stars.
MOC is operated by Malin Space Science Systems, Inc., from its facilities in San Diego, CA. A six person operations staff is responsible for selecting targets, commanding the camera, retrieving data from Project computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, checking quality, and archiving the raw data with NASA's Planetary Data System. Following a six-month validation process, the data are made publicly available on the World Wide Web. Specific images of interest are highlighted in media-related web releases. We present an overview of MOC and its operation, with emphasis on the archiving process and details of the camera's design and implementation. We also include some recent images and examples of the active environment of Mars, such as the seasonal regression of the polar caps and dust storms.