More Mars Imaging to Come
MRO’s CRISM imaging spectrometer instrument has been activated. Shouldn’t be long before we start getting some really interesting information about the planet’s surface composition:
CRISM will look for areas that were wet long enough to leave a mineral signature on the surface, searching for the spectral traces of aqueous and hydrothermal deposits, and mapping the geology, composition, and stratigraphy of surface features. The imager will map areas on the martian surface as small as 60 feet (about 18 meters) across, with the orbiter at its average altitude of about 190 miles (300 kilometers).
Offering greater capability to map spectral variations than any similar instrument sent to another planet, CRISM will read 544 ?colors? in reflected sunlight to detect minerals in the surface. Its highest resolution is about 20 times sharper than any previous look at Mars in near-infrared wavelengths. By identifying sites most likely to have contained water, CRISM data will help determine the best potential landing sites for future Mars missions seeking fossils or even traces of life.