Orbiter's HiRISE Camera Shows Angled View of Martian Crater
A new image of Victoria Crater shows wheel tracks left by the Opportunity rover.

By Lori Stiles, University Communications
Aug. 12, 2009

The high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned a dramatic oblique view of a Martian crater that a rover spent two years exploring.

The orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera is run from The University of Arizona. Professor Alfred McEwen of the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory is principal investigator.

The new view of Victoria Crater shows layers on steep crater walls, difficult to see from straight overhead, plus wheel tracks left by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between September 2006 and August 2008. 

The HiRISE camera shot the crater at an angle of 22 degrees off of straight down, comparable to looking at landscape out an airplane window. Earlier, less angled HiRISE images of Victoria Crater aided the rover team in choosing safe routes for Opportunity and contributed to joint scientific studies.

 The new Victoria Crater image is online at NASA  and as a subimage of the full-frame image on the HiRISE Website.

Victoria Crater, which is about 800 meters, or about a half mile, in diameter, is an impact crater at Meridiani Planum, near the equator of Mars. The crater features a distinctive scalloped-shape rim that has formed by material in the eroding crater wall moving downhill. A striking field of sand dunes covers much of the crater floor.

Another new image from the HiRISE camera catches an active dust devil leaving a trail and casting a shadow. These whirlwinds have been a subject of investigation by Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit.

The new dust devil image is at NASA  and as a subimage of the full-frame image at HiRISE.

 The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been studying Mars with an advanced set of instruments since 2006. It has returned more data about the planet than all other past and current missions to Mars combined.

For more information about the mission, visit NASA's MRO page.