Public to choose NASA’s Mars photo targets

The only time most of us get to commission photos is at our wedding, so NASA’s offer to snap pics of Mars on request is quite an opportunity.

People can now view Mars maps, check which targets have already been photographed or suggested, and make new proposals.

“The process is fairly simple,” said Guy McArthur, systems programmer on the HiRISE team at the University of Arizona. “With the tool, you can place your rectangle on Mars where you’d like.”

Since arriving at Mars in 2006, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has recorded nearly 13,000 observations. Each image covers dozens of square miles and reveals details as small as a desk, says NASA.

The HiRISE science team will evaluate suggestions and put high-priority ones into a queue. They will be imaged when the orbiter’s track and other conditions are right.

But the team does seem to be confusing the Red Planet with a picnic spot, it has to be said.

“The HiRISE team is pleased to give the public this opportunity to propose imaging targets and share the excitement of seeing your favorite spot on Mars at people-scale resolution,” said Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the camera. (Favorite spot? What?)

But with less than one percent of the Martian surface imaged so far, there’s plenty of scope.

We suspect, though, that an awful lot of people will request more pics of that weird rock formation that looks a bit like a face.

You can make camera suggestions here.