Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) High Resolution Images:

July 4, 1998
Mars Pathfinder First Anniversary Special--
Refined Landing Site Location in MOC Image 25603


Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Release:          MOC2-56a, -56b, -56c, -56d, -56e
Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image ID:         552348805.20 (global NA image);
							   577743128.25603 (high resol. NA image)
63 KByte GIF image

(A) Global and regional setting of Mars Pathfinder's July 4, 1997, landing site. Inset is the first image of Mars obtained by MGS MOC on July 2, 1997, at a distance of 17.2 million kilometers (10.7 million miles) from the planet. The black box indicates the Ares Vallis region where Mars Pathfinder was scheduled to land 2 days later. The regional view is part of a U.S. Geological Survey Viking orbiter photomosaic 1:64-scale map. The white box indicates the general region into which Mars Pathfinder landed. The wide, straight valley entering the map from the lower right is Ares Vallis. North is up in both images. Note that the black and white boxes do not correspond to the size of any subsequent pictures-- they are designed to merely show general locations.

463 KByte GIF image

(B) Subsection of Viking 1 Orbiter image 004a70, which was taken in June 1976, to support landing site selection for the earlier, Viking mission. The features labeled here were visible from the Mars Pathfinder lander on its July 4, 1997, landing. These features allowed the Mars Pathfinder team to quickly identify the location of the lander in the Ares Vallis setting. Image has been map-projected so that north is up. Illumination is from the upper left. Prior to the Mars Global Surveyor mission, this was the highest-resolution image of the area. Image resolution is about 27 meters (89 feet) per pixel.

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(C) MOC image 25603 subframe, shown at 5.9 meters (about 19 feet) per pixel resolution. Small, colored box is a topographic map of the Mars Pathfinder landing site produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (Flagstaff, AZ) from Mars Pathfinder stereographic images (see subsequent 2 pictures for a higher-resolution view). Dark, heavy lines are "sightlines" to various landmarks seen along the horizon in Mars Pathfinder camera images, measured by T. Parker of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and matched to features seen in Viking Orbiter images. These lines were published in Science, v. 278, p. 1746, December 5, 1997. The lighter, thinner sightlines are the same lines, adjusted to match the same features as seen in the higher resolution MOC image 25603. These lines indicate the location of the landing site to within a few hundred meters/yards. The colored box--the topographic map--has been placed at the location of the actual landing site (see images below). The lander and rover would be located at the center of the colored box. The white box shows the context of image (D), below. North is up, illumination is from the lower right.

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(D) Location of Mars Pathfinder lander and Sojourner Rover, relative to Mars Global Surveyor MOC image obtained April 1998. The famous "Twin Peaks"-- first seen by the lander on July 4, 1997--are shown at the lower left. The scale bar indicates distance in feet and in meters. The colored box is the topographic map of the Mars Pathfinder landing site, derived from Pathfinder camera stereoscopic images by R. Kirk and colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey (Flagstaff, AZ). The lander and rover were located in the center of the colored box. An explanation of the colors is given below in (E).

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(E) Location of Mars Pathfinder landing site in MOC image 25603. The lander is located in the center of the white box. The original resolution of the MOC image was about 3.3 meters (11 feet) per pixel; however, because the region was hazy at the time the picture was taken, the effective resolution is only about 5 meters (16.4 feet) per pixel. Thus, the lander and rover are too small to actually be seen in the image. The colored box, 120 m (just under 400 ft) on a side, is the topographic map of the landing site. The topographic map was made using the stereographic images taken by Mars Pathfinder in 1997. Low areas--depressions--are blue and purple, high areas--hill--are shown as red. The range of heights is actually fairly small--a total of 4 m (about 13 ft) from dark purple to bright red. The lander is represented within the black dot at the center of the map. A preliminary version of the topographic map that is generally similar to this more refined version was published in Science, v. 278, p. 1736, December 5, 1997.

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.


It has been one year since NASA's Return to the Red Planet began with the spectacular landing of Mars Pathfinder and its microrover, Sojourner. The spacecraft bounced onto a flood-washed landscape on July 4, 1997.

Mars Pathfinder was soon joined by the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor on September 11, 1997 (PDT). Mars Global Surveyor's high resolution camera, MOC, took a picture of the Mars Pathfinder landing site region during its 256th orbit on April 22, 1998. This picture--at about 5 meters (11 feet) per pixel--is the best available for the site. The previous best images were from the Viking 1 Orbiter in 1976, and had resolutions of about 38 meters (125 feet) per pixel.

The MOC image has allowed scientists to determine the exact location of the Mars Pathfinder lander. Unfortunately, the image resolution is not good enough to actually see the lander--nor can any of the familiar boulders (e.g., "Yogi") be seen at this resolution.

Using the MOC image, the landing site location has been refined by Dr. Michael Malin, Principal Investigator for the Mars Global Surveyor MOC Team and a Participating Scientist on the Mars Pathfinder mission. The images (C), (D), and (E), above, illustrate how the landing site was located by using the "sightlines" published by T. Parker (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA) and topographic map kindly provided in advance of publication by R. Kirk (U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ).

For more information on the MOC images of the Mars Pathfinder landing site, 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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