Mars Color Imager (MARCI) on the Mars Climate Orbiter

M. C. Malin, J. F. Bell, W. Calvin, R. T. Clancy, R. M. Haberle, P. B. James, S. W. Lee, P. C. Thomas, M. A. Caplinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The Mars Color Imager, or MARCI, experiment on the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) consists of two cameras with unique optics and identical focal plane assemblies (FPAs), Data Acquisition System (DAS) electronics, and power supplies. Each camera is characterized by small physical size and mass (∼6 x 6 x 12 cm, including baffle; <500 g), low power requirements (<2.5 W, including power supply losses), and high science performance (1000 x 1000 pixel, low noise). The Wide Angle (WA) camera will have the capability to map Mars in five visible and two ultraviolet spectral bands at a resolution of better than 8 km/pixel under the worst case downlink data rate. Under better downlink conditions the WA will provide kilometer-scale global maps of atmospheric phenomena such as clouds, hazes, dust storms, and the polar hood. Limb observations will provide additional detail on atmospheric structure at 1/3 scale-height resolution. The Medium Angle (MA) camera is designed to study selected areas of Mars at regional scale. From 400 km altitude its 6° FOV, which covers ∼40 km at 40 m/pixel, will permit all locations on the planet except the poles to be accessible for image acquisitions every two mapping cycles (roughly 52 sols). Eight spectral channels between 425 and 1000 nm provide the ability to discriminate both atmospheric and surface features on the basis of composition. The primary science objectives of MARCI are to (1) observe Martian atmospheric processes at synoptic scales and mesoscales, (2) study details of the interaction of the atmosphere with the surface at a variety of scales in both space and time, and (3) examine surface features characteristic of the evolution of the Martian climate over time. MARCI will directly address two of the three high-level goals of the Mars Surveyor Program: Climate and Resources. Life, the third goal, will be addressed indirectly through the environmental factors associated with the other two goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JE001145
Pages (from-to)17651-17672
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE8
StatePublished - Aug 25 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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