CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars)
HomeMissionInstrumentsScienceDataEducationNews CenterGallery

Media Contacts:
For Immediate Release

June 27, 2007

CRISM Data Available on NASA’s Online Archive

The first images from the most powerful spectral camera ever sent to Mars – and innovative tools for working with this information – are now available on NASA’s online planetary data archive.

The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), flying aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), has been searching for mineralogical evidence of past water on the Martian surface since November 2006, when MRO settled into a science-gathering orbit around the planet. CRISM, combined with other cameras and sensors on MRO, is providing the most detailed look yet at Martian geology, climate and surface makeup. Through its telescopic scanners CRISM has taken more than 1,900 images of specific targets, including more than 500 at the instrument's highest resolution that pinpoints areas down to 15

meters – or 48 feet – in 544 "colors" of reflected sunlight.

The camera has also mapped about half of the planet at lower resolution – showing areas as small as 200 meters (660 feet) in 72 colors – and monitored abundances of atmospheric gases and particulates in the atmosphere, returning more than 950 separate measurements that track seasonal variations.

Led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., the CRISM team has delivered the first month of these observations to the NASA Planetary Data System. They’re available at, along with several tools that make the data accessible to Web users.

Over its two-year primary mission the orbiter will send back more data than all previous Mars missions combined. This first CRISM package, posted in the Planetary Data System’s Geosciences section, contains about 410 gigabytes of data – enough to fit on nearly 600 compact discs.

“CRISM is opening new areas of discovery on Mars, and uncovering evidence of how water altered the planet over billions of years,” says CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie, of APL. “Now, planetary scientists from around the world can access this data.”

That access is easier, Murchie adds, thanks to a new program on the PDS site called Orbital Data Explorer. Produced by the PDS Geosciences Node at Washington University, St. Louis, the program is a collection of tools that allow users to search, display and download PDS-archived data from MRO and other selected Mars missions. The program is available at

“The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is collecting more data, and carrying out more complex observation plans, than any other mission to Mars,” says Ray Arvidson, CRISM co-investigator and the PDS Geosciences Node manager from Washington University. “Orbital Data Explorer augments existing tools on the PDS site by providing advanced search, retrieval and order capabilities, as well as integrated analysis and visualization tools that will make it easier to examine and compare data from MRO and other missions.”
APL, which has built more than 150 spacecraft instruments over the past four decades, led the effort to develop, integrate, and test CRISM. The CRISM team includes experts from universities, government agencies and small businesses in the United States and abroad; visit for more information. Information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is available online at The mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor and built the MRO spacecraft.

Media Contact:

Michael Buckley
(240) 228-7536