Skip Navigation: Avoid going through Home page links and jump straight to content



Mars Global Surveyor
Mars Orbiter Camera

Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) Low Resolution Images:

Olympus Mons, 1998


Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Release:          MOC2-69
Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image ID:         578036433.26301
							   P263-1 (Red WA)
							   P263-2 (Blue WA)
855 KByte JPEG image
175 KByte JPEG image

Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) wide-angle view of Olympus Mons in April 1998. This color picture was made using MOC red wide angle image 26301 and blue wide angle image 26302. The green channel was synthesized by averaging the red and blue bands. Color is not the true color of Mars as it would appear to the human eye (the actual colors would be more pale and contrast more subdued). North is to the left, east is up.

You may need to adjust the images for the gamma of your monitor to insure proper viewing.

Note: This MOC image is made available in order to share with the public the excitement of new discoveries being made via the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The image may be reproduced only if the image is credited to "Malin Space Science Systems/NASA". Release of this image does not constitute a release of scientific data. The image and its caption should not be referenced in the scientific literature. Full data releases to the scientific community are scheduled by the Mars Global Surveyor Project and NASA Planetary Data System. Typically, data will be released after a 6 month calibration and validation period.

Click Here for more information on MGS data release and archiving plans.


Olympus Mons is a mountain of mystery. Taller than three Mount Everests and about as wide as the entire Hawaiian Island chain, this giant volcano is nearly as flat as a pancake. That is, its flanks typically only slope 2° to 5°.

The Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) obtained this spectacular wide-angle view of Olympus Mons on Mars Global Surveyor's 263rd orbit, around 10:40 p.m. PDT on April 25, 1998. In the view presented here, north is to the left and east is up. The spacecraft was traveling from north to south (left to right). Although the camera looks straight down (towards the nadir) and cannot be pointed to the side, the wide angle camera has such a large field of view (it sees from horizon to horizon) that, in effect, it provides side looking views. Unlike some other MOC images, that have had to be warped to provide a view as if seen from a certain direction and altitude, this image shows what the camera saw without additional processing. It is easy to imagine that you are looking out a window at the surface of Mars from about 900 km (560 miles) up.

The image was taken on a cool, crisp winter morning. The west side of the volcano (lower portion of view, above) was clear and details on the surface appear very sharp. The skies above the plains to the east of Olympus Mons (upper portion of view) were cloudy. Clouds were lapping against the lower east flanks of this 26 kilometers (16 miles) high volcano, but the summit skies were clear.

When Mars Global Surveyor attains its Mapping Orbit in March 1999, the MOC wide angle camera system will be used to make daily, global maps of martian clouds and weather systems. The wide angle images will resemble weather satellite pictures of Earth, and will help the Mars science teams plan their observations and test computer-driven Mars weather prediction models.

Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.

babylogo.gif To MSSS Home Page