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HiRISE Image Targeting Challenge
Welcome to the Fall 2007 NASA Quest Challenge!
Help scientists at NASA by suggesting a target for HiRISE!
Calendar of Events below for Registration and other events

NEW! See archive of November 13 webcast

Artist depiction of the MRO Spacecraft

This challenge is brought to you by MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera team in collaboration with NASA Quest.  The HiRISE camera, now orbiting Mars onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, is helping NASA to search for signs of past and present water on Mars.  Understanding the history of water on Mars helps scientists understand if there is now or ever has been life on Mars.

Scientists have argued for water on Mars since the first Viking images of Mars were returned nearly 30 years ago.  Since then, Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey have collected more images; now the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) is using a camera attached to a very powerful telescope to look down on the surface of Mars.

HiRISE is taking photos of Mars that are higher in resolution (~30cm/pixel), showing more detail, than any previous images.  Objects as small as a meter across, approximately the size of a teacher’s desk, can be seen in the HiRISE images.  This allows HiRISE to find small features like interior channels, streambed features, and layering.  Since the HiRISE camera is “zoomed in” to look at very small regions of Mars, it will only be able to image about 2% of the surface of the planet.  Thus each image has to count!

You are challenged to help choose some regions of Mars for HiRISE to image that probably contained water at the surface in the past.  The HiRISE team will pick several suggestions and image them with the camera in the coming months.  Your team will represent the first people on Earth to see the resulting image and will have the chance to search for signs of water in the image.

You can choose areas within a valley system or outflow channel (like the source region or other interesting spot on the floor or walls) or obtain a close-up of gullies imaged from past missions.  You can also choose to re-image an interesting site already seen in a HiRISE image to look for any changes that may indicate present geologic activity.

To increase your chances of getting your image picked sooner rather than later, here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t pick a dusty area.  A large fraction of the planet is covered in dust, and a lot of dust means that the surface features are hidden.  
  2. Don't pick a spot to the far north. We are coming out of Mars winter in the northern hemisphere, and it is still too dark to take good images far to the north. You can always put some suggestions of the northern latitudes in, but we won't be able to take them this fall. 
  3. Have a well thought out hypothesis for selecting this target location.

Very few images can be taken at any given time, and the camera is restricted by its orbital path and the time of year. In addition, HiRISE is one of several instruments on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that also need to collect data and are allocated part of the data downlink volume. However, we will continue to release classroom suggested images on the HiRISE website each week, so even if your target is not selected this round, keep checking the website! You’ll also be able to see what other school groups have suggested and help in the analysis of those sites! We want all participating classes to analyze their favorite returned HiRISE image, whether or not they actually suggested it, and submit a report on their analysis.

See the calendar below for planning purposes. Prepare for the Challenge with some background references to learn about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Martian terrain options. Grade-specific Teacher's Guides and Student Activity Books, tutorials, and other helpful information are available in .pdf format from the HiRISE Learning and Activity Center. To browse the released HiRISE images and for additional information about HiRISE, visit the main HiRISE website at

Calendar of Events


Registration Now in Session!
Please note: After you have registered for the HiRISE Image Targeting Challenge you will be receive an email giving you information on how to access to the active website by registering to HiWeb. HiWeb is the place where you will view images and submit your entries.

Begin preparation, understanding:

  • What the Mars HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) is.
  • How is High Resolution photography going to affect what we are able to see?
  • What makes one site better than another in determining where water/life may have existed in the past?
  • Begin to form your opinion of where you would like to look.
  • Explore the Clickworkers to learn to recognize geologic features images and help build image feature databases for the HiRISE team.

To help you get started, we've created a page to step you through the process. It links to a point-by-point tutorial on the use of HiWeb. Only Registered Participants have access to the HiWeb

(Grade-specific Teacher Guides and Activity Books are available online in .pdf format.)
See also links to other online resources for research purposes.

Wednesday, September 19! Good news!
The first student image released to the public is now on the HiRise Site!
The image is at
See also the news article at

Archived Webcast
Webcast icon

View the Spring 2007 Webcast

  • Meet the team.
  • Learn how to become a pilot tester of HiWeb
  • Learn how to use "HiWeb" site to explore options and present your preference.

September 25
10 a.m. Pacific
1:00 p.m. Eastern
1700 GMT
chat icon Live Chat!

Read the archive of question/answer pairs from the chat scheduled to help trouble shoot any problems you may be having with HiWeb or questions you may have about picking a good target to image.

We will schedule one more chat before the October 5 deadline.

This webchat was for last minute questions either about how to use HiWeb for recording your selection, how to fine-tune your selection to better chance of being selected, or any other topic that would help you with the HiRISE Image Targeting Challenge.

Read the archive of question/answer pairs from the chat scheduled to help trouble shoot any problems you may be having with HiWeb or questions you may have about picking a good target to image.

October 5

When you have formed an hypothesis and are ready to request and support your selection of that site, enter your information at the HiWeb site.

Month of
October through Mid-November

With the options that best coordinate with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's course, images will be taken of as many student suggested sites as is possible. As images are available, they will be open to all registered participants only.


Tuesday, November 13
10 a.m.* Pacific
1:00 p.m.* Eastern
1800 GMT

Webcast iconArchive

Download Power Point Slide for this Webcast


As image of student-suggested sites are downloaded, it is time to participate in the fun of analyzing these. You can pick any HiRISE image to analyze, submit a brief report on it and help write image captions.

This webcast is designed to help you with this part of the challenge (review, analysis, and captioning images). If you cannot make the hour of the webcast, place your questions in the chat room early. We will archive the webcast as soon as possible after the webcast.

As students review the images, our NASA experts will be preparing their comments.
For easier viewing, the slides for this webcast will be available for download.

    How High Resolution enhances opinion forming?
    Does High Resolution Imagery confirm or refute your hypothesis?
    Anything else?
    See attached form for submitting your Challenge Written Report.

Student images are open only to those who register until the images have been officially released on the main HiRISE site....


December 19

Present your analysis of the images received. We will post images, reports and captions together with the Mars experts' comments during the next several weeks. Keep checking the HiRISE site for your submission.

Certificate will be available for participating students.

 FirstGov  NASA

NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: May 2005
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