The high-resolution imaging science experiment (HiRISE) in the MRO extended science phases (2009–2023)

A. S. McEwen, S. Byrne, C. Hansen, I. J. Daubar, S. Sutton, C. M. Dundas, N. Bardabelias, N. Baugh, J. Bergstrom, R. Beyer, K. M. Block, V. J. Bray, J. C. Bridges, M. Chojnacki, S. J. Conway, W. A. Delamere, T. Ebben, A. Espinosa, A. Fennema, J. GrantV. C. Gulick, K. E. Herkenhoff, R. Heyd, R. Leis, L. Ojha, S. Papendick, C. Schaller, N. Thomas, L. L. Tornabene, C. Weitz, S. A. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been orbiting Mars since 2006 and has acquired >80,000 HiRISE images with sub-meter resolution, contributing to over 2000 peer-reviewed publications, and has provided the data needed to enable safe surface landings in key locations by several rovers or landers. This paper describes the changes to science planning, data processing, and analysis tools since the initial Primary Science Phase in 2006–2008. These changes affect the data used or requested by the community and how they should interpret the data. There have been a variety of complications to the dataset over the years, such as gaps in monitoring due to spacecraft and instrument issues and special events like the arrival of new landers or rovers on Mars or global dust storms. The HiRISE optics have performed well except for a period when temperature uniformity was perturbed, reducing the resolution of some images. The focal plane system now has 12 rather than 14 operational detectors. The first failure (2011) was a unit at the edge of the swath width, reducing image width by 10% rather than creating a gap. The recent (2023) failure was in the middle of the swath. An unusual problem with the analog-to-digital conversion of the signal (resulting in erroneous data) has worsened over time; mitigation steps so far have preserved full-resolution imaging over all functional detectors. Soon, full-resolution imaging will be narrowed to a subset of the detectors and there will be more 2 × 2 binned data. We describe lessons received for future very high-resolution orbital imaging. We continue to invite all interested people to suggest HiRISE targets on Mars via HiWish, and to explore the easy-to-use publicly available images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115795
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Data reduction techniques
  • Geological processes
  • Image processing
  • Instrumentation
  • Mars, surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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