Earth comes closer to Mars this month than it has in
nearly 60,000 years, but one new opportunity for seeing
details on the red planet comes from a vantage point much

The public has an unprecedented opportunity to suggest places
on Mars that should be photographed from a spacecraft
orbiting that planet. Camera operators for NASA’s Mars Global
Surveyor spacecraft are ready to take suggestions online for
new places for images from the Mars Orbiter Camera.

The spacecraft, managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
(JPL), Pasadena, Calif., has been orbiting Mars since 1997,
with more than 20,000 orbits so far. The Mars Orbiter Camera
has already taken more than 120,000 pictures of Mars. Many of
the camera’s images have sharp enough resolution to show
features as small as a school bus. The images have revealed
relatively recent gully erosion, ancient sedimentary rocks
and many other spectacular scientific surprises.

“We’ve only covered about three percent of the surface area
of Mars with the high-resolution camera. We want to be sure
we’re not missing some place that could be important, so
we’re casting a wide net for new suggestions,” said Dr. Ken
Edgett, staff scientist at Malin Space Science Systems, the
San Diego firm that supplied and operates the camera for
NASA. “We’re looking for excellent suggestions of areas on
Mars that we have not already imaged,” Edgett said. “We’ll
look at every request that comes in.”

“NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft team will examine
each request to ensure the safety of this priceless ‘eye in
the sky’ above Mars,” said Dr. Jim Garvin, NASA’s Lead
Scientist for Mars Exploration at NASA Headquarters,

Information about how to submit requests is online at the new
Mars Orbiter Camera Target Request Site, at:

Requesters should describe the purpose for the suggested
image. Suggestions for target sites already imaged by the
camera will be disqualified unless there is a convincing
reason for repeating the target. An online gallery of
pictures taken by the camera is at:

“Some of the best requests may be places nowhere near any
site the Mars Orbiter Camera has imaged before,” Edgett said.
As with pictures desired by Mars scientists working with the
camera every day, new suggestions will need to wait until the
Mars Global Surveyor flies directly over the selected target,
which could be several months or longer. The first images
from this public suggestion program will probably be released
this fall.

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.

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit:

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