Context Camera Investigation on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Article first published online: 18 MAY 2007
Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets (1991–2012)
Volume 112, Issue E5, May 2007
How to Cite
2007), Context Camera Investigation on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, J. Geophys. Res., 112, E05S04, doi:10.1029/2006JE002808., et al. (
- Issue published online: 18 MAY 2007
- Article first published online: 18 MAY 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 15 JAN 2007
- Manuscript Revised: 15 NOV 2006
- Manuscript Received: 9 AUG 2006
- spaceflight instruments;
- Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
 The Context Camera (CTX) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a Facility Instrument (i.e., government-furnished equipment operated by a science team not responsible for design and fabrication) designed, built, and operated by Malin Space Science Systems and the MRO Mars Color Imager team (MARCI). CTX will (1) provide context images for data acquired by other MRO instruments, (2) observe features of interest to NASA's Mars Exploration Program (e.g., candidate landing sites), and (3) conduct a scientific investigation, led by the MARCI team, of geologic, geomorphic, and meteorological processes on Mars. CTX consists of a digital electronics assembly; a 350 mm f/3.25 Schmidt-type telescope of catadioptric optical design with a 5.7° field of view, providing a ∼30-km-wide swath from ∼290 km altitude; and a 5000-element CCD with a band pass of 500–700 nm and 7 μm pixels, giving ∼6 m/pixel spatial resolution from MRO's nearly circular, nearly polar mapping orbit. Raw data are transferred to the MRO spacecraft flight computer for processing (e.g., data compression) before transmission to Earth. The ground data system and operations are based on 9 years of Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera on-orbit experience. CTX has been allocated 12% of the total MRO data return, or about ≥3 terabits for the nominal mission. This data volume would cover ∼9% of Mars at 6 m/pixel, but overlapping images (for stereo, mosaics, and observation of changes and meteorological events) will reduce this area. CTX acquired its first (instrument checkout) images of Mars on 24 March 2006.