Well, the transition imaging phase is now over, and us folks at HiROC are reflecting on lessons learned. We’re coming to realize that our joy of getting images for this one week will occur constantly for our two year primary science phase, and perhaps even much longer than that. Wow! It’s almost difficult to comprehend!
Posts Tagged ‘Transition’
Let us speak of HiRISE image names…
Every HiRISE image (or “observation”) is identified by a unique ID. Think of this observation ID as the name of the image. The basic form of the ID has three parts: a mission phase, an orbit number, and a target code. Our first transition phase image, for example, is TRA_000823_1720.
The mission phase is a three-letter abbreviation. “TRA” is the transition phase. Starting in November, you’ll be seeing “PSP” for “primary science phase,” which lasts for two Earth years.
The orbit number is a six-digit, zero-padded number. “000823″ is the eight hundred twenty-third orbit of MRO around Mars. MRO is in a roughly polar orbit around Mars, meaning the orbit is nearly perpendicular to the planet’s equator; this sort of orbit is typical of missions designed for mapping, because it provides coverage of the entire planet. The orbit number increments by one whenever we cross the planet’s equator on the nighttime side.
The target code indicates the target of the observation. If the number is between 0000 and 3595, it is the angle between the nighttime equator and the latitude of the center of the observation, multiplied by 10. It is measured to the nearest half-degree. The nighttime equator is 0000, the south pole is 0900, the daytime equator is 1800, and the north pole is 2700. 1720 is at latitude 8° S.
If the target code is between 9000 and 9303, it indicates an off-planet target, such as Deimos, Phobos, or a star.
And that’s how you identify a HiRISE image. In practice, the HiRISE team talks about them by dropping the mission phase code and the orbit number padding. Our first image is simply “823 1720″ amongst the team. Formally, however, it will always be TRA_000823_1720.
During the Transition Phase, we’ve been having daily “tag-up” telecons at 7:30 AM. (A telecon is a meeting held over the telephone.) It’s a chance for everyone to get on the same page, because it’s been an incredibly complicated and hectic time. We hear about any issues on the spacecraft and review past and upcoming activities. All the different teams give quick updates on their status (Navigation, Flight Engineering Team, all the instrument SOTs — Science Operations Teams — that’s us!). The telecons are usually very short and business-like, because everyone’s been so busy.
This morning, however, we got a break and didn’t have to call in until 9 AM (finally, I got to sleep in! ). When I dialed in, I thought I had called the wrong number! Everyone on the phone was laughing and joking around — very unlike any other tagup meeting I’ve attended. People were very happy and excited to finally see the data from all the instruments. Everyone has been working so hard, and this is the ultimate reward.
The teams all agreed that everything is going well. Congratulations were shared all around!
All of us at HiRISE are grateful for all the hard work the spacecraft teams have done to get us to Mars. We couldn’t do it without them!
Wow, what a day! I still can’t believe how beautiful the images are that we’ve seen today. The detail is absolutely astounding. I’m quite exhausted from all of the work that we’ve been doing to prepare for these images, but somehow I still have left-over energy from the excitement of the day. I am so happy with the images, and it’s extremely gratifying to see everyone’s hard work pay off. Congratulations HiRISE team!
I can’t wait until tomorrow when I get to see the next images that we are acquiring.
The second image has been released in its full-scale version.
I’ve had my fill of chocolate cake (delicious) and of crowds (they seemed to come in waves, and they all seemed to center around the various 30-inch monitors scattered about the Operations Center), but I have not had my fill of new images of Mars. We are seeing such amazing detail. Some people may laugh that we are excited about seeing rocks, but this new ability to see boulders from orbit is a breakthrough in Mars remote sensing. With HiRISE, we begin to bridge the gap between the imaging abilities of orbiters and those of rovers.
The full images have been filtering in over the last few minutes, here’s the operations team looking at the entire first image for the first time!
In the building we are located, there is a lobby on the ground floor. Along with most of the first set of pictures we took, there is a full scale model of the HiRISE camera, along with the HiWall, a 3×5 wall of moniters, each of which is 1600×1200 pixels, which displays some of the pictures in super high resolution, 4800×6000 pixels total.
The picture being shown currently is the part of the first image we have currently received. We still haven’t received the entire image, it is coming in soon.
We got some more pictures of everyone looking at the first data to come down. You can tell how excited everyone is. (And don’t we look great in our new shirts??
The second image has already started to come down. We are all still on our high from the first image. To imagine that we will have thousands of these images in the next few years, it’s incredible!
Things are starting to calm down here a bit. We’re enjoying some food, going back to the engineering data to make sure everythings running perfect, and all in all, we’re just starting to soak in the events of the day. But we won’t have long, in the next week we will take about 70 of these pictures, before we are turned of for the upcoming Solar conjunction. Who knows what mysteries of Mars will be unveiled during this exciting time!