Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mars Map

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mars Map

Article excerpt

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.

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Websites developed recently at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility 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. …

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