ASU Mars camera yields best Red Planet map ever
Arizona State University | 23 July 2010
NASA Spacecraft Camera Yields Most Accurate Mars MapThe best Mars map ever made is now available online for planetary scientists and armchair astronauts alike. And citizen scientists are invited to help make it even better.
Websites developed recently at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility, in collaboration with NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Microsoft, make it easy for anyone to trek the craters, volcanoes, and dusty plains of Earth's small red neighbor world.
The map is accessible as an interactive zoomable global map, which is the easiest for most viewers to use. (Advanced users with large bandwidth, powerful computers, and sophisticated software capable of handling gigabyte images, can download the map in sections at full resolution.)
The maps show Mars as if sliced from a globe, unwrapped, and flattened out on a table. Nearly 21,000 individual images have been smoothed, blended, fitted together, and cartographically controlled to make a giant mosaic that Web viewers can zoom into and scroll around. The few missing pieces show where clouds and poor lighting have thus far prevented map-quality imaging; these places are high on mission planners' must-image target list.
All the map images come from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a multi-band infrared and visual camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The smallest surface details visible when you zoom all the way in are 100 meters, or 330 feet, wide. The 100-meter map has been in the making since THEMIS observations began eight years ago.
NASA JPL | PR 2010-244 | 23 July 2010
A camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has helped develop the most accurate global Martian map ever. Researchers and the public can access the map via several websites and explore and survey the entire surface of the Red Planet.
The map was constructed using nearly 21,000 images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System, or THEMIS, a multi-band infrared camera on Odyssey. Researchers at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility in Tempe, in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have been compiling the map since THEMIS observations began eight years ago.
The pictures have been smoothed, matched, blended and cartographically controlled to make a giant mosaic. Users can pan around images and zoom into them. At full zoom, the smallest surface details are 100 meters (330 feet) wide. While portions of Mars have been mapped at higher resolution, this map provides the most accurate view so far of the entire planet.
The new map is available at: http://www.mars.asu.edu/maps/?layer=thm_dayir_100m_v11 .
Advanced users with large bandwidth, powerful computers and software capable of handling images in the gigabyte range can download the full-resolution map in sections at: http://www.mars.asu.edu/data/thm_dir_100m .
Working with THEMIS images from the new map, the public can contribute to Mars exploration by aligning the images to within a pixel's accuracy at NASA's "Be a Martian" website, which was developed in cooperation with Microsoft Corp. Users can visit the site at: http://beamartian.jpl.nasa.gov/maproom#/MapMars .
Other sites build upon the base map. At Mars Image Explorer, which includes images from every Mars orbital mission since the mid-1970s, users can search for images using a map of Mars at: http://themis.asu.edu/maps .