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Photos: New camera brings Mars closer

The Mars Reconaissance Orbiter sent the first images from its highest resolution camera. Plus, updates from other Mars explorers.
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First hi-res Mars photo

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has sent the first images from the highest resolution camera to take photos of Mars. This image which shows details never seen before of the deepest part of Mars' canyon, Ius Chasma, was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment.

From about 185 miles, objects as small as 35 inches can be detected.

A two-year mission to analyze the Red Planet that will collect more data than all previous Mars missions combined begins in November.

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North polar region

In addition to the high-resolution camera, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter also contains includes a mineral-identifying spectrometer, a ground-penetrating radar, a context camera for imaging wide areas of the surface, a wide-angle color imager for monitoring the entire planet daily, and an instrument for mapping and monitoring water vapor and other particles in the atmosphere.

Left is an image of Mars' north polar layered deposits taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment.

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mineral mapping

A mineral mapping instrument called Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars began sending images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter this week.

The left image from this strip of the Mars north polar region shows nearly true colors while the center photo shows the region as seen just beyond the range of the human eye. In the right image the ice is blue and dunes in the now-yellow area are much easier to see than in the other photos.

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crater rim

The Mars rover Opportunity has reached its major target, the edge of the Victoria crater. The robot has been travelled more than 5.7 miles on Mars since it landed in January 2004. Its original mission was scheduled for three months.

Geologists expect to learn new details of the history of the Red Planet by studying the exposed layers of rock on the inside of the crater.

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An earlier photo shows the dunes on Martian surface that Opportunity traversed to reach the Victoria crater.

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Rock abrasion tool

The rock abrasion tool (low center) from the other Mars rover robot Spirit became clogged with dust and bits of rock but scientists devised a way to run the tool in reverse to clear the debris and return it to full operation.

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Mars Global Surveyor

The Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars in 1996 to begin a four-year mission but it's still going and going. This image from Sept. 20 shows about a 1.9 mile by 1.9 mile impact crater.

The lighter mounds are old while the dark sand dunes and intermediate ripples are new.

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Spider web

Here's a "spider web" from the Martian surface.

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