Released 15 March 2004
The Odyssey spacecraft has completed a full Mars year of observations of the red planet. For the next several weeks the Image of the Day will look back over this first mars year. It will focus on four themes: 1) the poles - with the seasonal changes seen in the retreat and expansion of the caps; 2) craters - with a variety of morphologies relating to impact materials and later alteration, both infilling and exhumation; 3) channels - the clues to liquid surface flow; and 4) volcanic flow features. While some images have helped answer questions about the history of Mars, many have raised new questions that are still being investigated as Odyssey continues collecting data as it orbits Mars.
Infrared images taken during the nighttime exhibit only the thermophysical properties of the surface of Mars. The effect of sun-facing versus non-sun-facing energy dissipates quickly at night. Thermophysical effects dominate as different surfaces cool at different rates through the nighttime hours. Rocks cool slowly, and are therefore relatively bright at night (remember that rocks are dark during the day). Dust and other fine grained materials cool very quickly and are dark in nighttime infrared images.
This nighttime IR image was collected September 28, 2002 during the northern spring season. The "pinwheel" pattern represents alternating warm and cool materials.
Image information: IR instrument. Latitude 60.3, Longitude 271.9 East (88.1 West). 100 meter/pixel resolution.
Note: this THEMIS visual image has not been radiometrically nor geometrically calibrated for this preliminary release. An empirical correction has been performed to remove instrumental effects. A linear shift has been applied in the cross-track and down-track direction to approximate spacecraft and planetary motion. Fully calibrated and geometrically projected images will be released through the Planetary Data System in accordance with Project policies at a later time.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) was developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Raytheon Santa Barbara Remote Sensing. The THEMIS investigation is led by Dr. Philip Christensen at Arizona State University. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the Odyssey project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.