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Mars Odyssey's THEMIS Begins Posting Daily Images

Press Release From: Arizona State University
Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Need to get away to someplace exotic? Mars is now open for daily sightseeing.

Beginning March 27, 2002, recent images of Mars taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft will be available to the public on the Internet. A new, "uncalibrated" image taken by the visible light camera will be posted at 10 A.M. EST daily, Monday through Friday. The pictures can be viewed and downloaded at http://themis.asu.edu/latest.html .

The images will show 22 kilometer-wide strips of the martian surface at a resolution of 18 meters. Though the images will not yet be fully calibrated for scientific use, they give the public an unprecedented opportunity to get a close look at many of Mars' unusual geological features. The visible light camera's resolution is about eight to 16 times better than most of the images taken by NASA's Viking missions, which completed the first global map of the martian surface. "We want to generate a steady flow of images so we can share some of the excitement of what we're seeing with the public," said Greg Mehall, THEMIS mission manager at Arizona State University. "We're seeing a lot of very interesting things, since much of Mars has never been viewed so closely before."

Though the posted images have undergone only minimal image processing, the team wanted to share them with the public as soon as possible. "They're still pretty spectacular to look at," Mehall said. "And we want people to feel they are getting a first look at the images with us."

THEMIS began mapping Mars from an orbit of 420 kilometers in mid-February, taking images in both infrared and visible light The instrument is expected to take as many as 15,000 visible light images through the course of the mission.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington. Investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, operate the science instruments. Additional science partners are located at the Russian Aviation and Space Agency and at Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico.

Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL. Additional information about the 2001 Mars Odyssey is available on the Internet at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/

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