Status Report

Mars Picture of the Day: Clouds Over Morning Limb

By SpaceRef Editor
June 3, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-380, 3 June 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Mars Global Surveyor orbits the red planet 12 times each day.
Half of each orbit is spent on the day side of Mars,
which is where most Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images are
obtained because sunlight is required to illuminate the
surfaces being observed. However, on the night side of Mars,
the wide angle cameras can see clouds and hazes above the
sunward martian limb. The limb is the edge of the planet as
it appears when viewed from an oblique perspective.

This blue wide angle camera image,
obtained on the night side of Mars on
May 15, 2003, shows clouds picking up the first
sunlight before dawn near 55° north latitude.
The scene is illuminated by sunlight from the right.
The sun is actually on the other side of the planet,
and has not yet risen over this region. The dark area on
the left side of the picture is the martian surface
at night. The dark band on the right side is outer
space. The bright features just right of center are
the clouds hanging above the martian limb over the
planet’s northern plains. North is toward the top
and east is to the right; the spacecraft
was moving southward when the image was acquired.

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, California.
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,
California and Denver, Colorado.

SpaceRef staff editor.