Mars exploration via thermal emission spectroscopy

C. F. Schueler, K. Blasius, Philip Christensen, S. Silverman, Steven Ruff, M. Wyatt, G. Mehall, R. Peralta, D. Bates

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Arizona State University (ASU), and Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems (SAS) Santa Barbara Remote Sensing (SBRS) have executed a series of successful Mars exploration missions. These have recently been publicized on television and the internet with the early 2004 Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission geological robots that have revolutionized our detailed knowledge of the planet's geology and atmosphere. This latest mission success has its foundation hi missions dating back to 1969. Over the past thirty-five years NASA has demonstrated a long-term commitment to planetary science and solar system exploration that continues with a commitment recently expressed by President Bush and codified in a reorganization of the NASA space sciences mission directorate. This paper reports on a small but exciting aspect of this sweeping NASA program, and illustrates the benefits and efficiency with which planetary and solar system exploration can be accomplished. Key in the success is the vision not only of NASA hi general, but of the mission Principal Investigator, in particular. The specific series of missions leading to MER contains an underlying vision of carefully planned geological investigations using remote sensing instrumentation, starting with broad survey, leading to more finely resolved global imaging, and finally to landing instrumentation capable of detailed rock and soil analyses. The mission started with broad and relatively coarse spatial resolution orbital surveys with fine spectral capability focused on identifying the overall geological and atmospheric character of the planet accomplished from 1996 to the present conducted by the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES). This led to the more detailed global imaging at finer spatial resolution offered by the Mars 2001 Odyssey Mission Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) which identified specific landing sites of interest for detailed exploration. The mission culminated in the recent MER lander geological analyses conducted by the mini-TES instruments carried by the rovers. This series of remote sensing investigations has set the stage for a new era in solar system exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
EditorsA.M. Larar, M. Suzuki, Q. Tong
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2005
EventMultispectral and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Instruments and Applications II - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Nov 9 2004Nov 11 2004


OtherMultispectral and Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Instruments and Applications II
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHonolulu, HI


  • Mars
  • Mars Exploration Rover
  • Mini-TES
  • Thermal Emission Spectrometer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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