NASA Mars Spacecraft Snaps Photos Chosen by Public

WASHINGTON -- The most powerful camera aboard a NASA spacecraft
orbiting Mars has returned the first pictures of locations on the Red
Planet suggested by the public.

The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera,
aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, is nicknamed, "the
people's camera." Through a program called HiWish that began in
January, scientists have received approximately 1,000 suggestions.
The first eight images of areas the public selected are available
online at:


"NASA's Mars program is a prime example of what we call participatory
exploration," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said. "To allow the
public to aim a camera at a specific site on a distant world is an
invaluable teaching tool that can help educate and inspire our youth
to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math."

Since 2006, HiRISE has obtained approximately 13,000 observations
covering dozens of square miles, including areas from a
student-suggestion program called NASA Quest. However, only about 1
percent of the Martian surface has been photographed. The public is
encouraged to recommend sites for the other 99 percent. To make a
suggestion, visit:


NASA has provided other opportunities for the public to see and
explore Mars. A camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor imaged 1,086
targets suggested through a public-request program from 2003 until
2006. Launched on Nov. 7, 1996, the probe pioneered the use of
aerobraking at Mars and mapped the surface. The original one-year
mission was extended four times until November 2006.

"Some people get into model railroading or Civil War re-enactments. My
thing is exploring Mars," said James Secosky, a retired teacher in
Manchester, N.Y., who suggested an area for HiRISE imaging after he
examined online images from other Mars-orbiting cameras.

Another camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter has taken nearly 500
images after receiving approximately 1,400 suggestions through a
public-request program initiated in 2009. Odyssey has been orbiting
Mars since 2001. It serves as a communications relay for Mars rovers
as well as making its own observations and discoveries.

HiRISE is one of six instruments on MRO. Launched in August 2005, the
orbiter reached Mars the following year to begin a two-year primary
science mission. The spacecraft has found that Mars has had diverse
wet environments at many locations for differing durations in the
planet's history, and Martian climate-change cycles persist into the
present era. The mission is in an extended science phase. The
spacecraft will continue to take several thousand images a year. The
mission has returned more data about Mars than all other spacecraft
to the Red Planet combined.

"What we hope is that people become more interested in science and
appreciate this opportunity to explore another world," said Alfred
McEwen, principal investigator for the camera at the University of
Arizona in Tucson. "We appreciate fresh thinking outside the box and
look for things we may not have chosen otherwise. It's good to have a
lot of eyes on Mars."

The University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory operates the
HiRISE camera, which was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Corp., in Boulder, Colo. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., manages MRO for NASA's Science Mission Directorate
in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the

For more information about the MRO mission, visit:


Source: NASA

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