This animation portrays the movements that NASA's Mars Global Surveyor undergoes to acquire an enhanced-resolution image using a technique called compensated pitch and roll targeted observation. The camera team and spacecraft team developed the technique for increasing the resolution in images taken by the spacecraft's Mars Orbiter Camera. Controllers adjust the rotation rate of the spacecraft to match the ground speed under the camera while the orbiter passes over the target.
Even without using this technique, the Mars Orbiter Camera acquires the highest-resolution images ever taken from a Mars orbiting spacecraft, revealing the martian surface with a typical pixel size of 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters (5 feet by 5 feet.) From the same camera, compensated pitch and roll targeted observations typically have a resolution of 1.5 meters (5 feet) per pixel in the cross-track (east-west) direction and just one-half meter (1.6 feet) in the down-track (north-south) direction.
Mars Global Surveyor is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.