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An onboard data analysis method to track the seasonal polar caps on Mars

January 1, 2005

The Martian seasonal CO2 ice caps advance and retreat each year. They are currently studied using instruments such as the THermal EMission Imaging System (THEMIS), a visible and infra-red camera on the Mars Odyssey spacecraft [1]. However, each image must be downlinked to Earth prior to analysis. In contrast, we have developed the Bimodal Image Temperature (BIT) histogram analysis method for onboard detection of the cap edge, before transmission. In downlink-limited scenarios when the entire image cannot be transmitted, the location of the cap edge can still be identified and sent to Earth. In this paper, we evaluate our method on uncalibrated THEMIS data and find 1) agreement with manual cap edge identifications to within 28.2 km, and 2) high accuracy even with a smaller analysis window, yielding large reductions in memory requirements. This algorithm is currently being considered as a capability enhancement for the Odyssey second extended mission, beginning in fall 2006.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2005
Title An onboard data analysis method to track the seasonal polar caps on Mars
Authors K.L. Wagstaff, R. Castano, S. Chien, A.B. Ivanov, E. Pounders, T.N. Titus
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title European Space Agency, (Special Publication) ESA SP
Index ID 70027322
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse