The imaging plan with the overall target list for the VMC Schools Campaign is complete!

The MEX team have done a great job reconciling the proposed targets with all the conflicting requirements of the spacecraft, the mandated technical testing that MEX must do, the communication slots, pointing restrictions, etc.

We are delighted to announce that, of the 25 proposals for imaging targets accepted for planning, 22 will be possible. And, for two of the three that are not possible, we have an alternative that may be equally valuable to the proposers!

Before you scroll down to the list below, please note several points:

  • For targets in the northern hemisphere and for equatorial targets (e.g. Tharisis, Valles Marineris, etc.), we will conduct imaging at (mostly) 8000-10 000km altitude.
  • For targets in the southern polar regions (Cavi Angusti, Phillips crater) we will be able to acquire images from much lower, at about 2000 km.
  • Irrespective of height, the proposals in green are the ones we believe we can do and get optimum results.
  • The ones in yellow are possible, but the VMC cannot be pointed directly at them and so the images won’t be centred on the target. While this is not ideal, it’s still pretty good. The green and yellow targets will be programmed into the Mars Express mission plan for the last week in May.

Red targets

There are three requested observation targets that are, after a great deal of analysis, highly problematic or impossible.

  1. North Pole: For the two observations proposed for imaging the North Pole, we will only see that area when it is about 90% in shadow, so you really wouldn’t see much. As an alternative – and if the proposers (HTBLA Kaindorf, Austria, and Aspiration Creation, USA, can accept) – we will be going over the South Pole under pretty good illumination conditions, and you could get images of that area. Just let us know!
  2. Phobos: Imaging of Phobos (requested by School for Tomorrow, USA) will just not be possible – on the two occasions when Phobos crosses the disk of Mars (and so would be visible), we have an unavoidably higher-priority radio science pass.

The MEX team are now preparing a final mission plan, and we will have an animation and further details for you early next week.

Google Hangout

We would also like to schedule a Google+ Hangout on 20, 21 or 22 May to provide interactive answers to as many of the teams as possible. We’ve set up a Doodle poll to determine which date/time is best for the most. PLEASE COMPLETE THE DOODLE HERE to let us know.

And finally, here’s the list!

VMC Schools image campaign - accepted

VMC Schools image campaign – accepted