The small crater Airy-0 was selected from Mariner 9 images to be the reference for the Mars prime meridian. Initial analyses in the year 2000 tied Viking Orbiter and Mars Orbiter Camera images of Airy-0 to the evolving Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter global digital terrain model to update the location of Airy-0. Based upon this tie and radiometric tracking of landers/rovers from Earth, new expressions for the Mars spin axis direction, spin rate, and prime meridian epoch value were produced to define the orientation of the Martian surface in inertial space over time. Since the Mars Global Surveyor mission and Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter global digital terrain model were completed some time ago, a more exhaustive study has been performed to determine the accuracy of the Airy-0 location and orientation of Mars at the standard epoch. Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) IR image cubes of the Airy and Gale crater regions were tied to the global terrain grid using precision stereo photogrammetric image processing techniques. The Airy-0 location was determined to be about 0.001 east of its predicted location using the currently defined International Astronomical Union (IAU) prime meridian location. Information on this new location and how it was derived will be provided to the NASA Mars Exploration Program Geodesy and Cartography Working Group for their assessment. This NASA group will make a recommendation to the IAU Working Group on Cartographic Coordinates and Rotational Elements to update the expression for the Mars spin axis direction, spin rate, and prime meridian location.
- prime meridian
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science