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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter instrument deck

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter instrument deck

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter instrument deck
Just two weeks after arriving at Mars, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured what may be the first-ever self-portrait from a planetary orbiter. The snapshot was not taken by any of the orbiter's cameras; it came from Mars Climate Sounder. This view was captured on March 25, 2006 in a mid-infrared wavelength of 32.5 microns. At the bottom of the view is the spacecraft instrument deck, which is below the MCS instrument. Mars would be above the view but is not visible here. There is a sharp and obvious boundary between the slightly warm instrument deck and the blackness of space. The instrument deck has a square shape, which is distorted in this angular-space view into a cusp shape.

On the extreme left, half of the CRISM spectrometer is visible.  CRISM has an aperture that is cylindrical in shape and projects approximately vertically from the instrument deck.  Close to the deck is a fan-shaped cooler that makes a blue bulge.  The bright green blob below that is the CRISM electronics box.

The darker blue pyramid-shaped object to the right of CRISM is one corner of the spacecraft.  An attitude thruster is mounted on the corner and is covered by a thermal blanket.

In the center of the image is the skinny projection of the MARCI context imaging camera.

The large shape to the right of center is composed of two separate objects.  In the foreground is the mostly blue Electra radio antenna.  It is largely blocking a view of one of the two solar panels.

At the far right is the large cylindrical body of the HiRISE camera.  At the moment that this image was taken, HiRISE was powered on.  Three small struts support HiRISE's secondary mirror.  When HiRISE is in use, these struts are heated to a specific temperature in order to make sure that they maintain a constant and known length.  Those heated struts form the hottest pixels in this thermal image.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

Original image data dated on or about March 25, 2006

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