NASA recently unveiled its latest creation, the most detailed 3D map of Mars ever made, which is sure to captivate anyone with a fascination for the red planet. The map, called the Global CTX Mosaic of Mars, was created by the Bruce Murray Laboratory for Planetary Visualization at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The interactive map is a mosaic created from images captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, more specifically, its black-and-white Context Camera.
The creation of the map was a labor of love for the team, taking them over six years to stitch together around 110,000 Mars images. While most of the images were organized using a computer algorithm, researchers added 13,000 manually to ensure that the map was as accurate as possible. As a result of their hard work, the map is incredibly detailed, covering around 270 square feet (25 square meters) of the Martian surface in each pixel. To put it into perspective, the 5.7 trillion-pixel (5.7-terapixel) image is larger than a football field if printed out.
This highly-detailed map is not only a beautiful piece of art but also a significant asset for science. “I’ve wanted something like this for a long time. It’s both a beautiful product of art and also useful for science,” said Laura Gerber, a Mars scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. The map’s beta version has already been cited by 120 peer-reviewed papers, showing its value to the scientific community.
However, the map is not only beneficial to scientists. The Global CTX Mosaic of Mars map is also available to the public, and it’s incredibly easy to use. Anyone can open the map in a web browser and click around to explore different regions of the planet. Users can zoom in to see details like dust devil tracks on the surface and click on tabs to visit points of interest, such as Jezero Crater, where NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently working, and Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system.
In conclusion, the Global CTX Mosaic of Mars map is an incredible achievement that’s both aesthetically pleasing and scientifically significant. This latest creation is a testament to NASA’s ongoing exploration of the red planet, and it will undoubtedly inspire many to learn more about our neighboring planet.
“I wanted something that would be accessible to everyone,” Murray Lab manager Jay Dickson, who led the project, said in the statement. “Schoolchildren can use this now. My mother, who just turned 78, can use this now. The goal is to lower the barriers for people who are interested in exploring Mars.”
To access the map, visit murray-lab.caltech.edu.
READ MORE: 3D Interactive Model of the Solar System
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