HiRISE - the gift that keeps on giving

HiRISE - the gift that keeps on giving

After 15 Years in Orbit, the Ball-Built HiRISE Keeps Delivering Stunning Images

About fifteen years ago, a small team at Ball Aerospace developed a camera that would establish a legacy unlike any other; one that it continues to build on to this day. 

The camera, known as the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), launched in 2005 aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). In partnership with the University of Arizona, its mission was to capture and investigate the geologic and climate processes on our celestial neighbor.

HiRISE is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet, enabling breathtaking views and images of the Red Planet. It has produced more high resolution and contrast images of Mars than were thought possible. It continues to deliver amazing images on an almost daily basis.
Mars Cliffs in Ancient Ice
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
In fact, in a recent Reuters article featuring The Top 30 Space Pictures of the Year, nearly one quarter, or seven of the 30  images listed, were taken by the HiRISE camera.

Ball Aerospace HiRISE team photoThe notable HiRISE images consisted of dust devils, craters, sand dunes, cliffs of ancient ice and more as it gave viewers a deeper look into the beauty of Mars and its geologic processes. The article also contains images from the Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes –all of which Ball played a significant role.

According to Jeff Lasco, a Ball Aerospace Thermal Solutions staff consultant who has been part of the of HiRISE program in various capacities for the past 19 years, the camera was designed and built by a small innovative team of about 40 people.

“The small-team dynamic worked, and we were able to deliver an outstanding instrument to the customer. It was a challenging effort particularly due to mass and power constraints, funding limitations and aggressive schedule. The instrument was delivered in just 35 months and featured cutting-edge charge-coupled device (CCD) readout electronics and an extremely mass-efficient design,” said Lasco.
While there was no predicted lifespan for the instrument, it has undoubtedly delivered beyond most reasonable expectations. HiRISE was designed to meet a lifetime requirement of 5.4 years, with a maximum of 20,000 images, according to Lasco. Reliability design standards typically call for hardware to perform for twice the lifetime requirement so about 11 years or 40,000 images. HiRISE has completed over 70,800 observations in the 14 years since the start of science operations in November 2006, he noted.As a year of unprecedented events and changes concludes, one thing that remains constant is the impact our work at Ball continues to have on science, exploration and discovery.

As a mission partner to the scientific community, we create innovative space solutions that help drive insightful observations of our planet and beyond to help pioneer discoveries. From delivering entire missions to contributing component level expertise, we value our role as a mission partner and always strive to Go Beyond®.

Congratulations to the HiRISE team, past and present, for this amazing testament to your hard work and dedication!
Mars Dust Devil Tracks
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
Tag(s): camera, HiRISE, Mars
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