Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) High Resolution Images
SPO-2 Observations:
Cloudy Image of Cerberus Rupes Dark Lineation


Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Release:          MOC2-53a, -53b, -53c, -53d
Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image ID:         581684435.35003
61 KByte GIF image

(A) Context for MOC image 35003 (white box). Picture is a mosaic of Viking orbiter images projected at 1:256 scale by the U.S. Geological Survey. Larger crater toward lower right is 9.6 kilometers (6 miles) across. Illumination is from upper right, north is up.

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(B) One of the best Viking orbiter views of the feature shown in MOC image 35003. Picture is a portion of Viking orbiter image 088a84. North is up, illumination is from the upper right. Image is a Mercator projection and shows an area about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) wide.

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(C) Unprocessed MOC image 35003, reduced to 5% of its original size. Image is nearly white because of clouds. Black box shows location of processed subframe shown in (D).

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(D) Processed MOC image 35003 subframe. If not for the clouds, resolution would have been about 6.2 meters (20.3 feet) per pixel. Illumination is from the lower right.

You may need to adjust the images for the gamma of your monitor to insure proper viewing.

Note: This MOC image is made available in order to share with the public the excitement of new discoveries being made via the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The image may be reproduced only if the image is credited to "Malin Space Science Systems/NASA". Release of this image does not constitute a release of scientific data. The image and its caption should not be referenced in the scientific literature. Full data releases to the scientific community are scheduled by the Mars Global Surveyor Project and NASA Planetary Data System. Typically, data will be released after a 6 month calibration and validation period.

Click Here for more information on MGS data release and archiving plans.


The Second Science Phasing Orbits (SPO-2) period of the Mars Global Surveyor mission began at the end of May 1998. These orbits are morning orbits. That is, the local time on the planet beneath Mars Global Surveyor is in the morning. During the first part of June 1998, the local time on the ground was approximately 9:30 a.m. The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) has observed that this time of day is quite cloudy this year.

Clouds have thus posed a real challenge for the MOC team, who are targeting high resolution images almost every day. Many of the high resolution images that were returned to Earth in early June 1998 were nearly white with clouds and haze. Very little detail could be seen on the ground.

The above picture illustrates one of the better cloudy images obtained by MOC. The haze was too thick to show much detail on the surface, but in this case at least a dark lineation could be seen in part of the image. A reduced copy of the entire image is shown in (C). The full frame was nearly white everywhere except in the vicinity of the dark lineation in (D). The MOC image, #35003, was obtained on Mars Global Surveyor's 350th orbit about the planet. The picture was taken around 4:00 a.m. PDT on June 7, 1998. The center of subframe (D) is at 8.03°N, 194.30°W. The dark lineation is one of the Cerberus Rupes--a set of dark lines (ridges or fractures) that cross the region southeast of the Elysium volcanic rise.

For more details on clouds in the early SPO-2 Observations of Mars by MOC, see:

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, CA. 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, CA and Denver, CO.

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