Some of the University of Arizona’s HiRISE camera images are now compiled in the first art book published on the camera’s long-running reconnaissance of Mars.

HiRISE, which stands for High Resolution Imaging Space Experiment, is an infrared camera that has been imaging selected parts of the Martian terrain from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since Sept. 29, 2006.

Its purpose is scientific, but as HiRISE principal investigator Alfred McEwen writes in his introduction to “This is Mars,” the images are also beautiful.

“They generate wonder, awakening our curiosity and inviting us to explore. While their quality and precision are indispensable for the scientific success of their mission, they also faithfully capture the planet’s mysterious splendor.”

McEwen said he’d still like someone to publish a “color atlas” of Mars using HiRISE images, but is mostly pleased with the job done on this black-and-white look at the red planet, compiled by French graphic artist and designer Xavier Barral.

McEwen, a professor at the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, said his group’s only payment for their help in creating the book was a supply of the books themselves.

The images from the NASA mission are available for anyone to view, download or publish at the HiRISE website.

HiRISE, the largest camera to ever be launched into space, continues to send new images to Earth three years after completing its original mission.

McEwen expects NASA to extend the mission again next year, even though the orbiter and the camera are beginning to show some signs of age.

Fortunately, the only one of HiRISE’s 14 CCD imagers to malfunction is at the edge of the camera.

In addition to McEwen’s introduction, the book includes an essay by astrophysicist Francis Rocard and geophysicist Nicolas Mangold.

The book is distributed in the United States by the New York photography foundation Aperture, which also publishes Aperture magazine.

The book is available at Aperture, currently discounted from $100 to $80 and is available at varying discounts from book stores and Internet book sites.

Contact reporter Tom Beal at or 520-573-4158.