If you were given a chance to aim the camera on NASA’s
Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter and take a picture of
something on the red planet, what would you shoot?

Now we know, after NASA released today the first picture
selected from hundreds of public suggestions. The photo
reveals a thick layer of dust blanketing the floor and wall
of the summit crater atop a tall volcano called Pavonis Mons.

“It’s such a thrill to see it,” said U.S. Marine Lance
Corporal Robert F. Sanders, of Jacksonville, N.C., who
suggested the crater close up as a photo target for the Mars
Global Surveyor camera. “I spent hours coming up with
suggestions, but I didn’t know whether any of them would be
accepted,” he said.

The resulting picture shows details as small as a large SUV
in a strip of ground about nine kilometers (5.6 miles) long
within the summit crater of Pavonis Mons.

“We’ve received hundreds of really good ideas, since we began
accepting public suggestions last month,” said Dr. Ken
Edgett, staff scientist for Malin Space Science Systems,
which operates the Mars Orbital Camera. “We were excited last
week, when the predicted ground track intersected a publicly
suggested location for the first time,” he said. Accepted
targets are not imaged until the spacecraft’s regular
orbiting pattern goes directly over them.

The captioned image and an accompanying wide-angle view for
context are available on the Internet from NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., at:


They are also available from Malin Space Science Systems, San
Diego, at:


The camera on Mars Global Surveyor has returned more than
120,000 pictures, since the spacecraft began orbiting Mars on
Sept. 12, 1997. Still, its high-resolution images have
covered only about three percent of the planet’s surface.
Three percent of Mars, while seemingly small, represents a
huge amount of “real estate,” or nearly 5 million square
kilometers (about 3 million square miles), that have been
observed at spectacular resolution.

Information about how to submit suggestions is available on
the Internet at the Mars Orbiter Camera Target Request Site,


“Taking public suggestions enhances the science return,”
Edgett said. “Every suggestion we get has the potential for

“As Mars Global Surveyor continues its legacy of SUV-scale
exploration, we’re excited to offer for the first time an
innovative approach for direct public participation in Mars
exploration,” said Dr. Jim Garvin, NASA’s Lead Scientist for
Mars. “Increasing the breadth of science activities, by
working together with the public to uncover the mysteries of
Mars, is an important part of NASA’s mission to inspire the
next generation of explorers.”

Information about Mars Global Surveyor is available on the
Internet at:


JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, manages Mars Global Surveyor for NASA’s Office of
Space Science in Washington. JPL’s industrial partner is
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, which developed and
operates the spacecraft. Malin Space Science Systems and the
California Institute of Technology built the Mars Orbiter
Camera. Malin Space Science Systems operates the camera from
facilities in San Diego.