Open challenge to Dr. Philip Christensen:
April 27, 2002
It is a few weeks until the THREE ( 3 ) month anniversary of the 'official'
Mission Start phase for the Mars Odyssey spacecraft named after famous scientist
and author Sir Arthur C. Clarke's ground-breaking movie, 2001 A Space
Odyssey. It is the FIRST movie I remember seeing with my father, and only
him. A truly shared moment that will forever shape who I am constantly
becoming. Your instrument, THEMIS is named after the Greek Goddess of
Justice who holds out a balance for equality and a sword for strength in
enforcing that equality, and a blindfold to indicate that ALL should be treated
equally in those ideals.
Many people may not be aware that while the THEMIS camera system is
acquiring images now, it is due for a shut-down in a few months for nearly an
entire Earth year! And as of today, despite repeated pleas, calls, and yes
taunts, for a TRUE COLOR image of that enigmatic orb called Mars, your team has
failed to deliver such. Despite the FACT that with EVERY black and white
image you acquire in ANY particular Visible Image System (VIS) band, of the five
(5) available, ALL, repeat ALL the other 4 bands actually ARE acquired by the
sensor array at the same time. You selectively choose which band for the
sensor to send to the computer, sort-a like highlighting only 1/5 th of a page
of text for the layperson out here. For those common folks out
there, that means that the sensor array ( page of text ) is ALWAYS full,
only certain portions are selected or 'highlighted' to send or 'copy' to the
computer's internal buses, memory and CPU systems and transfer to Earth.
The FULL COLOR IMAGE or FULL PAGE OF TEXT, is ALWAYS there (on the sensor) with
every image capture. EVERY TIME! There is also a non-redundant 1 GB
image memory card on-board the spacecraft.
Now, to be fair, the more bands used, or the more 'text' you highlight, the
more memory and cpu power is required to handle that data; and there is only so
much space there to work with on board the spacecraft. However, there are
certain areas on Mars where the TRUE COLOR and the FULL INFRARED spectrum
images, which CAN be acquired AT THE SAME TIME, should be done no matter the
bandwidth and transmission time.
Image Memory Size:
25.6 Mb/image @ 9 spectral bands
15.06 Mb/image @ 9 spectral bands (compressed)
5.12 Mb/image @ 2 bands
3.01 Mb/image @ 2 bands (compressed)
and that was for the infrared only!!! Here's the VISUAL COLOR info:
Image Memory Size:
40.72 Mb/image @ 5 bands
23.95 Mb/image @ 5 bands (compressed)
8.14 Mb/image @ 1 band
4.79 Mb/image @ 1 band (compressed)
We know that TRUE COLOR images are possible to be DIRECTLY transmitted to Earth from the spacecraft without the further need of 'processing' the bands here.
8. Can the THEMIS IR and VIS detectors image the same area on Mars
at the same time?
Yes, with limitations. The VIS cross-track footprint is 18.4 km, versus 32
km for the IR. In the along-track direction, the VIS frame size is limited by
its 4 Mbyte data buffer size. The along-track dimension can be 15-65 km,
depending on the number of bands used (65 km is the maximum for a single-band
image). On any given swath, the VIS data must "wait" for the IR data
collection to finish before being transferred to the spacecraft, since the VIS
and IR share a single high-rate data interface.
In this very FIRST period of imaging opportunity for the THEMIS camera
system that place should be Cydonia, ALL of it. It won't EVER get
'squelched for good' no matter how many 'Middle
Butte' Press Releases you end up
turning into 'Camel
Humps' of the tortured vaulted scientific
methodological process of HONEST SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY!
Acquire FULL SPECTRUM data and RELEASE that data for the Cydonia area, and
quickly before the first imaging sequence period is over, and to release that
information along with the raw data which would include the ancillary
data. Again if you do not have time to geometrically deal with the flood
of data, there are many people out here who can, and have the time, talent and
scientific expertise to do the job in an honest and open scientific
methodological manner, AND have it peer reviewed.
I personally would prefer YOU do this with the Cydonia area, but it seems to
be 'politically' charged so much that your efforts may be at someone else's
cross-purposes in releasing such inane, ridiculous and absolutely pitiful
attempts at psuedo-debunkery of the Cydonia area [and the Face
not to mention the D & M Pyramid or the
Smoking Pyramid] that only hurt the
overall image of the great folks like yourself doing exemplary work in difficult
conditions. So I would prefer that you and YOUR team fully delve into this
area with the FULL SPECTRUM of the entire area taken and released and have a
public 'round-table' on what the data is and means for all of humanity.
Now to address some questions that many other Mars enthusiasts have been
arguing about whether THEMIS is actually capable of 'TRUE COLOR' ie RGB
values that fit the response spectrum of the human eye from orbit.
The spectra below were generated using different RGB
values for wavelengths between 380nm and 780nm.
Table 4-4.THEMIS Visible Band Characteristics
Band Center Wavelength Bandwidth
1 0.870 Ám
2 0.423 Ám
3 0.652 Ám
4 0.751 Ám
5 0.553 Ám
So, from what I can tell the 'generalized' colors represented by the 5 filters
1-deep red , 2-blueish, 3-yellow/red, 4-red, 5-green
And now for the Human Eye also from above link:
The three white curves below indicate the sensitivity level
for the three types of cones. The black curve indicates the sensitivity of the
So, in the final analysis, I was right all along that:
1. THEMIS is quite capable of acquiring TRUE COLOR images of the surface of
2. THEMIS can acquire ALL 5 bands at once.
3. THEMIS can also, simultaneously acquire a FULL infrared spectrum of the
EXACT same terrain as the VIS system in real-time.
And the final question remains:
Why hasn't this been done for the area on Mars that has captured the MOST
public awareness by the taxpaying public, which has footed the bill for your
half-billion buck-a-roo project. After loosing over a BILLION dollars due
to math errors and other foibles in the MCO and MPL, it is not only my opinion,
but many many people's opinion that THIS mission deserves a more open and honest
policy in its relations to the public. We appreciate the 'daily' releases,
but the ancillary data is missing. Why embargo the ancillary data from a
press release image? The image is already out there, the ancillary data
can only HELP us understand the data and the image, hiding it only hurts the
credibility of the team producing it. There is no logical reason to hide
ancillary data from an already publicly released image like Dr. Mike Malin of
MSSS has done with the April 8, 2001 Cydonia Face image for more than 12 (
TWELVE ) months now on a 6 month 'official embargo policy'. He's
six months late on his 'payment'. I hope THEMIS does NOT head down that
road. According to your OWN documents:
the very FIRST scheduled data release according to that policy is due August
19, 2002 for the ENTIRE first month of operations of THEMIS to be hosted at your
University PDS satellite site. I, and other taxpayers, consider that
policy to be a promise we hope you keep.
We are simple to please out here really.
1. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
2. Don't make promises or policy you don't intended to keep, and to keep the
promises and follow the policies you do make.
It really IS that simple.
Thank you for all your and your team's efforts. They really are
appreciated. We have waited so long, gone through so many disappointments,
put up with late releases, and psuedo-science by Press Release that we are just
plain tired of the 'run-around'. The artificiality of various features in
Cydonia holds much more promise, more science and more excitement for human
growth than the geological timetable for various levels of lava around Olympus
Mons. It is PAST time that all the scientific instruments we have to bear,
are brought to bear on that enigmatic area and settle some of these questions
once and for all, with COLOR and FULL SPECTRUM images.
Let's taunt a Billionaire to Mars ! ! ! Beats Begging.
Think out there act down here... NOW ! ! ! Have YOU ??
Give a High School kid a reason to care...a spacewalk.
Teach 'em a lesson in teamwork.
Teach 'em a lesson in humanity.