Status Report

NASA Mars Image of the Day: 18 Minutes After Beagle 2 Landing

By SpaceRef Editor
December 31, 2003
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Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera

MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-591, 31 December 2003

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

This oblique Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC)
wide angle red image shows the Beagle 2 landing zone about
18 minutes after the probe was scheduled to touch down
on 25 December 2003. Mars Global Surveyor passed to the west of
the site shortly after touch-down, so this image was taken
looking east. The white ellipse shows
the approximate location of the landing site. The largest crater
to the northwest (toward upper left) of the ellipse is about
28 km (17.4 mi) across. The image is streaked and has low contrast
because of the combined effects of looking obliquely and the
presence of
a thin veil of dust that not only hung over this region,
but over most of Mars on 25 December 2003. During the previous
2 weeks, a large dust storm, followed by several smaller
regional-scale storms, lifted dust in the western hemisphere of
Mars. This dust drifted over most of the planet, reducing
contrast and degrading the quality of MGS MOC images such as
this one. This MOC image is important because it shows that there
were no dust storms or other weather phenomena happening at the
landing site the day Beagle 2 arrived.
The landing site is located
in Isidis Planitia near 11°N, 269.7°W.
Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

This and several other images processed by Malin Space Science
Systems, Inc. were shown by the Beagle 2 team during a press
conference on 29 December 2003. These and other Beagle 2 images
can be seen at: The Beagle 2 web site is at: Weekly
weather reports for the Beagle 2 and Mars Exploration Rover sites,
based on MOC image analysis, can be seen at:

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.