Western space explorers release first two images of Mars captured by team using HiRISE

The team of Western University space explorers investigating the surface of Mars with the largest telescope ever used for a deep space mission released its first two images today.

As part of the ongoing Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission, Livio Tornabene and his team from Western’s Faculty of Science started the 211th imaging cycle for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on Sunday, November 30.

Late Sunday evening, the first two images were downlinked from MRO providing Tornabene and his Western-based team with their first glimpse of images they diligently targeted in advance of the imaging cycle.

View downloadable images of the surface of Mars here:

Arabia Terra

This image, the very first of cycle 211, is approximately 1.5x3km. It shows a sample of eroded Martian terrain in Arabia Terra. At one time this was a flat, smooth terrain, but over time it has been eroded – most likely by the wind – forming depressed, low-lying areas featuring small dunes resembling waves in the ocean; whereas, in other areas there are small flat-top hills forming.

Polar layered deposit slopes

This image, approximately 500x500m, represents a popular monitoring site, which is a sample of South Polar Layered Deposits (SPLD). These deposits are quite extensive and partially surround the South Polar Residual Cap. In this image, fractured bedrock is partially coated in frost.

“It’s mind-blowing to realize that when the team, myself included, first look at the images, we are likely the first people on Earth to lay eyes upon a portion of the Martian surface that may have not been imaged before at such high resolution,” says Tornabene, an adjunct research professor at Western’s Faculty of Science and a member of the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX).

This is the first HiRISE imaging cycle planned from a Canadian institution and three Western students – graduate students Eric Pilles and Ryan Hopkins and undergraduate student Kayle Hansen – are actively participating in the project, another first for Canada. The Western-based team is working closely with the HiRISE Operations Team, based at The University of Arizona (Tuscon), and lead Targeting Specialist Anjani Polit, to gather new scientific data for the Mars research community

For more information about the ongoing project, please visit https://communications.uwo.ca/media/releases/2014/November/western_space_explorers_ready_to_capture_new_images_of_the_surface_of_mars.html

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165, jrenaud9@uwo.ca, @jeffrenaud99