We crossed the ten thousand observation mark this week; that’s our total number of observations since arriving at Mars. Roughly 9800 observations are of Mars (of course). Then there’s Phobos, Deimos, Jupiter, and the Earth and Moon (hope you were smiling!).
Over 9400 of these observations have been released to the Planetary Data System as JP2 files (over 9000 of these have color). As of today, 365 observations have been received after the end of the last PDS delivery, and are in the queue for the next one.
A handful of observations have data gaps in critical portions of the raw files (namely, science channel headers), or other severe problems that prevent processing from proceeding. We’re working on improved tools and procedures to alleviate the large amount of manual work to process those images; there’s a very good chance that the usable data can ultimately be recovered and released.
The rest (243 to be exact) are ‘CAL’ or calibration observations, used to verify settings on HiRISE, or obtain data that helps us remove noise and other imaging artifacts in our automated processing. They’re normally taken while on the night side of Mars with ’stim’ lamps on to provide a known, fixed light source.
Take a look at the plot below, which shows the cumulative number of observations received (in salmon) and the cumulative number released (as RDR’s, in mauve) as a function of time.
- The big steps are PDS data releases. The first was six months after beginning the primary operations in November 2006.
- There’s a missing step around December of 2007. That’s because we released a large number of color images, getting caught up with our color processing in lieu of a standard EDR/RDR release.
- The horizontal steps are not completely horizontal. The slope is our rate of weekly featured image releases.
- As noted earlier, just about everything is released, the totals are converging, the lag is 365 observations, or about a month at our current rate.
- The totals are a little less than 10,000; that’s the difference made by the CAL observations and the handful that currently can’t be easily recovered.
- There’s a ‘hump’ of received observations in late 2008, that’s the high data rate period (when Earth and Mars were closest).
- There are a few flat steps where no observations are received. One is the month-long solar conjunction period centered on Nov-Dec 2008, the safe modes of February 2007 and February 2008, etc.
We’re doing about ten observations per day at the moment. During the high data rate period it was nearly double that.