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Most of the data volume from Surveyor will be generated by a dual-mode camera called the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). This device works like a television camera, but will takes still images instead of motion video. In narrow-angle mode, MOC's black and white, high-resolution telephoto lens will spot Martian rocks and other objects as small as 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) across from orbit. These pictures will be sharp enough to help scientists conduct detailed geological studies without setting foot on the planet.

In contrast to the detailed surface images, MOC's wide- angle, global monitoring mode will use a "fish-eye" lens to generate spectacular panoramic images in color spanning from horizon to horizon. These pictures will resemble weather photos of Earth commonly shown on late-night news broadcasts. NASA will release many of these images on a public access, "information super-highway" called the Internet almost as soon the radio signals carrying the pictures reach the Earth.

Using hundreds of these panoramic photographs, scientists all over the world will be able to play them like a motion "flip- book" or a film. This ability will allow them to see the life history of Martian weather phenomena such as dust storms, cloud formations, and the growth and contraction of the polar ice caps. In addition, these time-lapse animations will allow scientists to keep track of surface features that get blown by the wind, such as dust streaks and sand dunes.