The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, or MOLA, is an instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), a spacecraft that was launched on November 7, 1996. The mission of MGS was to orbit Mars, and map it over the course of approximately 3 years, which it did sucessfully, completing 4 1/2 years of mapping.
height of surface features on Mars is important to mapping it. To this end, MGS carried
a laser altimeter on board. This instrument, MOLA,
collected altimetry data until June 30, 2001. MOLA then operated as a radiometer until October 7, 2006.
This website will explain what MOLA is and how it works, and share some of the
important discoveries about Mars that have been made using MOLA data.
General interest articles, press releases, and features on MOLA can be
found in the Press & Media section. Also, be
sure to visit our Image Gallery for images and
renderings of Mars made with the use of MOLA's altimetry data.
Educators may be interested in seeing the
Education & Public Outreach activies we have available. Scientists
will want to visit our Technical page for
links to more technical information on MOLA.