Ultrahigh resolution topographic mapping of Mars with MRO HiRISE stereo images: Meter-scale slopes of candidate Phoenix landing sites

R. L. Kirk, E. Howington-Kraus, M. R. Rosiek, J. A. Anderson, B. A. Archinal, K. J. Becker, D. A. Cook, D. M. Galuszka, P. E. Geissler, T. M. Hare, I. M. Holmberg, L. P. Keszthelyi, B. L. Redding, W. A. Delamere, D. Gallagher, J. D. Chapel, E. M. Eliason, R. King, A. S. McEwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

258 Scopus citations


The objectives of this paper are twofold: first, to report our estimates of the meter-to-decameter-scale topography and slopes of candidate landing sites for the Phoenix mission, based on analysis of Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images with a typical pixel scale of 3 m and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) images at 0.3 m pixel-1 and, second, to document in detail the geometric calibration, software, and procedures on which the photogrammetric analysis of HiRISE data is based. A combination of optical design modeling, laboratory observations, star images, and Mars images form the basis for software in the U.S. Geological Survey Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) 3 system that corrects the images for a variety of distortions with single-pixel or subpixel accuracy. Corrected images are analyzed in the commercial photogrammetric software SOCET SET (®BAE Systems), yielding digital topographic models (DTMs) with a grid spacing of 1 m (3-4 pixels) that require minimal interactive editing. Photoclinometry yields DTMs with single-pixel grid spacing. Slopes from MOC and HiRISE are comparable throughout the latitude zone of interest and compare favorably with those where past missions have landed successfully; only the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) B site in Meridiani Planum is smoother. MOC results at multiple locations have root-mean-square (RMS) bidirectional slopes of 0.8-4.5° at baselines of 3-10 m. HiRISE stereopairs (one per final candidate site and one in the former site) yield 1.8-2.8° slopes at 1-m baseline. Slopes at 1 m from photoclinometry are also in the range 2-3° after correction for image blur. Slopes exceeding the 16° Phoenix safety limit are extremely rare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE00A24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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