This image is the first view of Mars taken by the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) Mars Color Imager (MARCI). It was acquired on 7 September 1999 at about 16:30 UTC (9:30 AM PDT), when the spacecraft was approximately 4.5 million kilometers (2.8 million miles) from the planet. This full-scale medium angle camera view is the highest resolution possible at this distance from Mars. At this point in its orbit around the sun, MCO is moving slower than, and being overtaken by, Mars (the morning side of the planet is visible in this picture). The center longitude is around 240° W.
The Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft will reach Mars on September 23, 1999. The Mars orbit insertion (MOI) will be immediately followed by a period of aerobraking (into November 1999). The orbiter will then function as a relay and communication satellite for data from the Mars Polar Lander through February 2000 before beginning its Mars-year-long mapping mission.
When the next MARCI image will be acquired is presently uncertain. The original mission plan calls for operation of the camera on a "non-interference basis" after the completion of aerobraking and during the lander relay phase. Planning for such operations cannot begin until after MOI.
For additional information about the Mars Climate Orbiter MARCI, Click HERE.
Also visit the Mars Climate Orbiter Home.