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.
"We've assembled the best global map of Mars to date," says Philip Christensen, Regents' Professor of geological sciences in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "And we made it available via the Internet so everyone can help make it better."
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.
"Portions of Mars have been mapped at higher resolution," says Christensen, "but this is the most detailed map so far that covers the planet."
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. "We tied the images to the cartographic control grid provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, which also modeled the THEMIS camera's optics," says Christensen, who is the principal investigator for THEMIS. "This let us remove instrument distortion, so features on the ground are correctly located to within a few pixels."
The new map lays the framework for global studies of properties such as the mineral composition and physical nature of the surface materials. In addition, it is helping NASA mission planners choose targets for aiming instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. And the map also plays a role in evaluating potential landing sites for NASA's next Mars rover, the Mars Science Laboratory, due for launch in late 2011.
Making the good even better
But every map, however good, can still be improved and this is no exception. "Computer-made maps have gone about as far as they can," says Christensen. "Now it's the turn for citizen scientists."
He adds, “With the help of people from around the world, we can increase the accuracy of the global Mars map for Red Planet explorers everywhere."
NASA's "Be A Martian" website, developed in cooperation with Microsoft, offers an easy and engaging way for would-be Mars mappers to do exactly this. ASU is regularly contributing newly taken THEMIS images to the Be A Martian "Map Room," where the public can help by hand-aligning new images, placing them within a pixel’s accuracy.
Mars mission album
The origins of the new global map lie in the work of previous Mars missions, which began imaging the Red Planet decades ago. Two new websites developed at ASU provide a wide window into the gigantic collection of images taken by earlier Mars missions.
Christensen explains: "These websites present all the images taken by cameras aboard Mars-orbiting space probes, starting with Viking in 1976. The image collection, regularly updated, also includes those from current missions, such as Europe's Mars Express, and NASA's Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter."
The new Mars Image Explorer, he says, lets viewers find images in either of two ways. Viewers can click on a map of Mars — or they can specifying various key properties such as latitude and longitude, spacecraft orbit number, date, or viewing conditions. Viewers can check out the Explorer by selecting key properties or by clicking on a mission-specific Mars map.
The broad purpose underlying all these sites is making Mars exploration easy and engaging for everyone, explains Christensen.
"We're trying to create a user-friendly interface between the public and NASA's Planetary Data System, which does a terrific job of collecting, validating, and archiving data. Our focus lies in providing easy access to Mars images for the general public and scientists alike."Robert Burnham, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Burnham | EurekAlert!
Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney
Airborne thermometer to measure Arctic temperatures
11.01.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering