[meteorite-list] Mars Image Marks THEMIS Milestone

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2007 09:10:59 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <200706071610.JAA14096_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Media Relations
Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona

Robert Burnham, (480) 458-8207

May 14, 2007

Mars image marks THEMIS milestone

The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey
orbiter marked a milestone May 4. An image from THEMIS showing Martian lava
flows and wind streaks mingling with impact craters, became the 1,200th
"Image of the Day" posted online at

The Mars Space Flight Facility at ASU operates the site, which is updated
every weekday with images and data from THEMIS. The first "Image of the Day"
was posted March 27, 2002.

"We usually select the 'Image of the Day' to show the wide variety of
surface features present on Mars," says Kelly Bender, THEMIS mission
planner. "Some images, however, are chosen purely for their aesthetic

THEMIS is a multiple-wavelength camera that photographs the Martian surface
in five visual and 10 infrared bands. At infrared wavelengths, the smallest
details it records are 330 feet (100 meters) wide, while at visual
wavelengths -- as seen in the image -- the smallest details are 60 feet (18
meters) wide.

Image of the day No. 1,200 shows a strip of ground on Mars that measures 11
miles (18 kilometers) wide by 39 miles (63 kilometers) long.

"We're looking at the Daedalia Planum region, part of the large volcanic
province of Tharsis," Bender says. "The lava flows came from the Arsia Mons
volcano. Its summit lies about 300 miles, or 500 kilometers, beyond the
image frame to the right. The rough textured lava surface traps dust and
sand, while the impact craters act as obstacles to the wind."

She notes that the combination of readily available dust and turbulent winds
passing the craters creates the bright and dark "tails" extending the west
(left) of the craters.

"These wind streaks indicate the direction the wind was blowing -- east to
west in this case," she says.

"From the very beginning of the THEMIS project, I wanted to bring Mars alive
for everyone," says Philip Christensen, Regents' Professor of geological
sciences in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, part of ASU's College
of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "One of the most enjoyable ways has been to
post a new image each day of the mission with a brief description of what we
think we are looking at."

Christensen is the director of the Mars Space Flight Facility, and both
designer and principal investigator for the THEMIS instrument.

"Many features we see in these images remain a mystery," he says. "More
often than not, we scratch our heads and mutter, 'Wow, what's that?' But
that's the fun of exploring Mars, and hopefully those who follow the mission
through our images can share in the experience of looking at the unknown for
the first time."

THEMIS images are available at http://themis-data.asu.edu/ , which lets
users search for images by designation or using a map of Mars. Each image is
accompanied by data on when the image was taken, where the spacecraft was
pointing, the resolution of the image, the local time and so on. Images can
be downloaded in PNG, JPEG, GIF or TIFF formats. Image of the day No. 1,200
carries the identification designation V23407003.

Mars Odyssey was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April
7, 2001, and arrived at Mars on Oct. 24, 2001. The orbiter spent the next
several months achieving a circular mapping orbit by aerobraking (dipping
into the atmosphere to slow and shrink the orbit). Aerobraking concluded in
early February 2002, and primary mapping operations began a few weeks later.
Received on Thu 07 Jun 2007 12:10:59 PM PDT

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