Global imaging of Mars by Hubble space telescope during the 1995 opposition

Philip B. James, James F. Bell, R. Todd Clancy, Steven W. Lee, Leonard J. Martin, Michael J. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hubble space telescope (HST) imaging of Mars near the 1995 opposition resulted in excellent synoptic-scale images of the planet during the spring season in the northern hemisphere. Because this season coincides with the aphelion position of Mars in its orbit, it is therefore the most difficult for ground based observation because of the relatively small angular size of Mars. This is the first sequence of images fully utilizing the capability of the new Planetary Camera to produce global synoptic images of the planet. The images reveal bright, discrete clouds associated with topographic features superimposed on a zonal band of condensate clouds between latitudes -10° and 30°; the maximum violet optical depth of the cloud band is about 0.3. In a few instances, the appearance of clouds beyond the morning terminator can be used to infer cloud heights of roughly 8 km. A large, dark albedo feature in the Cerberus region, observed for many years by ground-based observers, has almost disappeared in the 1995 HST images. Other aspects of Mars, such as the north polar cap, appear much as they did during previous oppositions. Although cloudy regions were observed by spacecraft during this season, the HST images uniquely reveal the global extent of significant optical depth clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18883-18890
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue numberE8
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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