ODE: Mars

Mission: MGS

Instrument: MOC

PDS Geosciences Node: PDS Source Information

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The Mars Global Surveyor’s Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) instrument – The principal components of MOLA are a diode-pumped, Nd:YAG laser transmitter that emits 1.064 micrometer wavelength laser pulses, a 0.5 m diameter telescope, a silicon avalanche photodiode detector, and a time interval unit with 10 nsec resolution. Additional delay fibers increase the effective resolution to 2.5 ns. When in the Mapping Phase of the mission, MOLA provided measurements of the topography of Mars within approximately 160 m footprints and a center-to-center along-track footprint spacing of 300 m along the MGS nadir ground-track. Range measurements, with an effective resolution of 37 cm, were converted to profiles of planetary radius and topographic height after correction for orbit and pointing errors. Radial accuracy of individual profiles was approximately 1 m RMS, as determined by altimetric crossovers, and shot locations are determined to within 100 m in the along-track and across-track directions. MOLA profiles have been assembled into global grids referenced to Mars' center-of-mass, with resolutions of up to 1/128 degree per pixel, although at this density some interpolation is required across-track. Other standard data products include near-global grids of footprint-scale roughness and 1.064 micrometer surface reflectivity. The background solar illumination noise level provides seasonal maps of narrow-band Lambert albedo.

The MOLA standard science data products are the Aggregated Experiment Data Record (AEDR) – all MOLA raw data aggregated by orbit; Precision Experiment Data Record (PEDR) – MOLA science data processed into profiles with precision orbit locations added; Precision Radiometry Data Record (PRDR); and the Experiment Gridded Data Record (MEGDR) – MOLA gridded data in various densities.

MOLA Products



Data Set


Precision Experiment Data Record - Along track, time series collection of MOLA instrument science measurements

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Precision Radiometry Data Record

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Spherical Harmonic Aggregated Data Record

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Mission Experiment Gridded Data Record

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