Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ASU Mars camera yields best Red Planet map ever

26.07.2010
The 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.

"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, robert.burnham@asu.edu
480-458-8207
School of Earth and Space Exploration

Robert Burnham | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

Further reports about: ASU Earth's magnetic field Galaxy Evolution Explorer Mars NASA Planet Red Planet THEMIS

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm
16.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Supermassive black hole model predicts characteristic light signals at cusp of collision
15.02.2018 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>