Our latest release includes more products from the original Phoenix descent observation, which include the color CCDs hand-mosaicked over the red filter CCDs. We’ve also been working with the Phoenix and MRO engineering teams to identify the location of the heat shield in the image (left). It’s pretty incredible that we caught the lander just after releasing the heat shield – a few more seconds, and it would have been out of the scene.
Emily Lakdawalla continues her excellent blog coverage in this article, which does a great job of explaining some of the reasons why this image was especially difficult to take. Along the way, she includes a tutorial on TDI (Time-Delay-Integration), written by one of the engineers that helped build the instrument. TDI is the method HiRISE uses to gather lots of light into its CCDs, and it’s one of the reasons we get such high signal-to-noise in our images. It’s a complicated concept, but it’s an important one for understanding HiRISE’s incredible imaging abilities, as well as its limitations.
From her blog post:
This is a fascinating story showing how necessary it sometimes is to have a deep understanding of an instrument in order to understand the data that comes from it. …It can be dangerous to read too much into space images until you have studied how the cameras really work.
It’s a great post – she deserves a cookie!