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20 January 2005 Mars exploration via thermal emission spectroscopy
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Arizona State University (ASU), and Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) Santa Barbara Remote Sensing (SBRS) have executed a series of successful Mars exploration missions. These have recently been publicized on television and the internet with the early 2004 Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission geological robots that have revolutionized our detailed knowledge of the planet's geology and atmosphere. This latest mission success has its foundation in missions dating back to 1969. Over the past thirty-five years NASA has demonstrated a long-term commitment to planetary science and solar system exploration that continues with a commitment recently expressed by President Bush and codified in a reorganization of the NASA space sciences mission directorate. This paper reports on a small but exciting aspect of this sweeping NASA program, and illustrates the benefits and efficiency with which planetary and solar system exploration can be accomplished. Key in the success is the vision not only of NASA in general, but of the mission Principal Investigator, in particular. The specific series of missions leading to MER contains an underlying vision of carefully planned geological investigations using remote sensing instrumentation, starting with broad survey, leading to more finely resolved global imaging, and finally to landing instrumentation capable of detailed rock and soil analyses. The mission started with broad and relatively coarse spatial resolution orbital surveys with fine spectral capability focused on identifying the overall geological and atmospheric character of the planet accomplished from 1996 to the present conducted by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES). This led to the more detailed global imaging at finer spatial resolution offered by the Mars 2001 Odyssey Mission Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) which identified specific landing sites of interest for detailed exploration. The mission culminated in the recent MER lander geological analyses conducted by the mini-TES instruments carried by the rovers. This series of remote sensing investigations has set the stage for a new era in solar system exploration.
© (2005) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Carl F. Schueler, Karl R. Blasius, Philip Christensen, Steven Silverman, Steven Ruff, Michael Wyatt, Greg Mehall, Richard James Peralta, and Duane Bates "Mars exploration via thermal emission spectroscopy", Proc. SPIE 5655, Multispectral and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Instruments and Applications II, (20 January 2005);

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