Relay-16 Stereo View of Layer Outcrops in Iani Chaos
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Relay-16 Stereo View of Layer Outcrops in Iani Chaos

October 20, 2009
In an effort to save fuel so that the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) mission can be extended additional years into the future (in order to act as a relay for entry, descent, and landing telemetry from the Mars Exploration Rover mission in early 2004), the spacecraft was re-oriented in mid-August 2001 such that it no longer points the camera and other science instruments straight down at Mars (i.e., towards its nadir). Now it points about 16° off-nadir. For the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) experiment, this new orientation, known among MGS teams as "Relay-16" (because it enables the "relay mission" and has an offset of 16°), has resulted in a tremendous increase in the number of opportunities to acquire high resolution stereo (3-D) views of the martian surface. Ideally, an image taken during the Mapping Mission when the spacecraft was pointing nadir is repeated within a week or two of its first Mars anniversary--i.e., 1 Mars year after it was first acquired--so that the illumination conditions are close to the same in the two images.

The 3-D anaglyph shown here is an example of the on-going effort to acquire Relay-16 stereo during the MGS Extended Mission. The first picture used to make this image, M13-01484, was acquired March 21, 2000. Nearly 1 Mars year later, the second image, E12-02584, was taken on January 23, 2002. Together, the images show eroded, pitted, light-toned layer outcrops in Iani Chaos near 4.4°S, 18.6°W. The layered materials may be ancient sedimentary rocks. The image covers an area 26 km (16 miles) by nearly 3 km (1.9 mi) wide, and is illuminated from the top left.

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