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Why aren't there HiRISE observation footprints near the Martian poles?

Space Exploration Asked on September 29, 2021

Browsing the HiRISE observations of Mars, I noticed that there aren’t any observation footprints at a latitude lower than -65° or higher than 65°. Why is this? Is there something I am not seeing? Is there a technical reason why these observations can’t be done at the high latitudes?

enter image description here
Image centered near 65.698°, 328.230°E. Red ticks are HiRISE observations and yellow are HiRISE suggestions.

Disclaimer: I didn’t look at the entire map, but I did look at a few different longitudes to see if the 65° limit was consistent across the planet.

One Answer

HiRise routinely observes at high latitudes. In fact I can quickly find these examples:

You have a large gallery of high latitude examples here: https://www.uahirise.org/science_themes/polar/index.php?page=159

So, the problem is not that MRO avoids the region but seems to be related to the online HiWish Browser Map app. My guess is that the projection makes huge distortions on the image footprints and thus the software doesn't renders them (due to the code needing some enhancements to allow it or due to a conscious decision to avoid confusing visualizations of the rest of the footprints at high latitudes).

In the help section of the app you can read

Near the poles, the elevation map will be better registered than the visible (and polar IR is not yet available through this interface).

Correct answer by Swike on September 29, 2021

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