NASA uses new camera to plan Mars mission

Oct. 23, 2007 at 12:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. space agency scientists selecting landing sites for a Mars rover mission are using a new mineral-mapping camera to narrow their options.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration managers are to meet next week to pare down the list of potential landing sites for a 2009 Mars Science Laboratory mission. When they meet, they will be using 125 new images from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM camera.

Built and operated by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, CRISM is one of six science instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently circling the planet.

One of CRISM’s main objectives is to find and investigate areas that were wet long enough to leave a mineral signature. Offering greater capability to map spectral variations than any similar instrument sent to another planet, NASA said CRISM can read 544 "colors" of reflected sunlight to detect minerals in the surface.

CRISM -- one of six science instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that's currently circling the red planet -- has produced more than 2,500 high-resolution images of the planet's surface and nearly 3,000 atmospheric observations.

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