Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) Science Objectives

MGS MOC view of layered sedimentary rock in southwestern Candor Chasma, Mars.


The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) is designed to acquire images of the Martian surface with a spatial resolution of 6 meters (~20 ft) per pixel over a swath about 30 kilometers (18.6 mi) wide. CTX is a Facility Instrument, the operation of which is led by the MRO MARCI science team.

Main objective: To obtain images that provide context for the very high spatial resolution pictures to be obtained by the MRO High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and the high spectral resolution MRO Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

Other objectives:

  • Study details of the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface of Mars at a variety of scales in both space (local and regional, meter and decameter) and time (days to months). 
  • Examine surface features characteristic of the evolution of Martian climate over time.
  • Monitor locations that show changes resulting from climate or geological processes.
  • Search for and document new phenomena accessible to the greater spatial coverage (relative to Mars Global Surveyor MOC) afforded by MRO.

Stereo: By rolling the MRO spacecraft so that its instruments are pointed at specific targets, it will be possible to obtain stereo pairs of images for selected areas on Mars. CTX stereo images will be used to understand the planets geology and geomorphology, as well as to help refine understanding of candidate future Mars landing sites.

Mosaics: Rolling of the MRO spacecraft so that it can point the instruments at specific targets will also permit opportunities to build up mosaics over large areas of interest at the 6 meters per pixel scale. Areas of interest include, for example, the vast sedimentary rock outcrops of northern Sinus Meridiani and western Candor Chasma.


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