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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

HiWISH releases Mars images

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

A actual-size model of the HiRISE, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, camera in the Sonnett Space Sciences building is displayed next to pictures taken by the camera of the surface of Mars. The UA HiRISE team has been taking public requests for pictures to be taken of specific places of Mars.
Lisa Beth Earle
Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat A actual-size model of the HiRISE, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, camera in the Sonnett Space Sciences building is displayed next to pictures taken by the camera of the surface of Mars. The UA HiRISE team has been taking public requests for pictures to be taken of specific places of Mars.

There have been more than 1,000 picture suggestions for the UA’s HiWISH Mars imaging program.

HiRISE, High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, is a camera orbiting Mars that was launched into space in August 2005 and began taking images in the fall of 2006, according to Guy McArthur, senior applications systems analyst and developer for the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and a software developer for HiRISE.

A life-size model of the spacecraft can be found at the UA HiRISE center at 1541 E. University Blvd.

HiRISE is known as the “”people’s camera,”” according to Alfred McEwen, professor of planetary sciences and principal investigator of HiRISE.

“”We actually had the idea of the public input images when we first submitted our proposal. We didn’t get started with it as soon as we wanted, and we finally got time to do that,”” McEwen said.

The HiRISE scientists wanted the public not to only see their work, but also to be a part of it.

“”Other missions had done similar stuff, but our camera is the most powerful that we’ve ever sent to another planet,”” said Ari Spinoza, media liaison for HiRISE and senior information technology support analyst for the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. “”This opens up science to everybody.””

Most of the work is done locally in Tucson, but the mission has international arms as well.

“”We have a science team comprised of individuals at other institutions across the U.S. and in Switzerland, and they can participate,”” McEwen said. “”People here locally do all the detail and image programming and send the command files to the spacecraft.””

HiWISH is a program that allows the public to suggest imaging sites on Mars using the HiRISE camera.

People have suggested 1,056 sites for imaging since the program began on Jan. 20.

“”We were ready to go several months beforehand, but our spacecraft was in safe mode, so we didn’t want to have targets coming in and wait around for it,”” Spinoza said.

The HiWISH team has imaged about 18 of those suggested targets.

The team is releasing preliminary images taken by the camera on Wednesday, but only one publically suggested image is included.

“”We release our images faster than any other mission,”” Spinoza said. “”It’s some bang for your buck, and they aren’t disappearing for months on end.””

Targets for imaging were chosen by a team of scientists who prioritized the suggestions by science themes and where the spacecraft was at the moment, McEwen said.

Images will be complemented by an informative caption, and, if a suggested image is released, the person who suggested will be notified via e-mail.

“”We want captions written by our scientists, and we want to explain in more detail. So you get a scientist to explain more detail in what you suggested,”” Spinoza said.

Some of the scientists on the team have suggested images alongside the public.

“”I have made suggestions, but none of mine have been picked yet,”” McArthur said. “”We go through a process, and there is no special treatment. We do not discriminate.””

HiWISH is an addition to the actual mission of HiRISE. The HiRISE camera is used for reconnaissance for Mars landings.

“”We scouted out the landing site for the Phoenix Lander, and it was successful,”” McEwen said. “”And we have been in the process of acquiring the candidate mission Mars Science Laboratory Rover, which is a lot (more) massive but more compact than the Phoenix rover.””

Their research has produced more than just images.

“”It has both found the most scientifically interesting places as well as certifying sites as safe places to land,”” McEwen added.

The first major batch of suggested images will be released in April.

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