Mars scientists spent 6 years creating the most detailed picture of the planet

Not available for Google Earth. Mars — There’s no way to get a close-up look at the new deck or pickup truck of Mars’ neighbors — but Caltech scientists have spent six years creating a 3D image of the Red Planet with the help of the popular computer app Sense.

The new device, it is called Global CTX Mars Mosaic(Opens in a new tab)It has 5.7 trillion pixels of data—enough mapmakers need the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, to produce a fully printed version. NASA. Each pixel covers an area of ​​Mars the size of a parking space, providing unprecedented image quality. Before, the world’s highest resolution was 100 meters per pixel, making the new mosaic 20 times more(Opens in a new tab).

Anyone can now zoom in and zoom out on the planet. meteorite craters, Dust devil tracks, Extinct volcanoesEx River bedsand it seems The lower tunnels. Scientist Jay Dixon, who led the project, said the inventors sought to make Earth’s neighbor, which is an average of 140 million miles away, more accessible to researchers and the public.

“School children can now use this. My 78-year-old mother can now use it, he said in a statement: “The goal is to lower the barriers for people interested in exploring Mars.”

Buttons on the device (found over here(Opens in a new tab)) users jump to famous landmarks like Gale and Jezero rocks, which NASA’s Curiosity and Endurance rovers explore.

“School children can now use this. My mother, who is now 78, could use this. The goal is to reduce the barriers to people interested in exploring Mars.

Mosaic covers 99.5 percent of the planet About 87,000 different images(Opens in a new tab) Taken between 2006 and 2020 by a camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The rover will fly up to 250 miles above the Red Planet, while its black-and-white contextual camera captures wide-angle views.

Global mapping of Mars

The Mars Global CTX Mosaic is a high-resolution global image of the Red Planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The team designed the tool so that each image in the mosaic is directly linked to the original data. Scientists presented a paper(Opens in a new tab) On the instrument at the 2023 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

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Dixon developed an algorithm to match images to create the new mosaic. The photos should also have similar lighting conditions and a clear sky. Then, what the program couldn’t match — about 13,000 images — he spent time stitching together by hand. Three years of work(Opens in a new tab). Leftover gaps in the mosaic represent areas blocked by clouds or areas that were not photographed before the project began.

Emphasize famous Mars features

Buttons on the device allow users to jump to popular landmarks that NASA’s Curiosity and Endurance rovers are exploring, such as Gale and Jzero.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

So far, more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific papers have used the experimental version of the map released in 2018 for research purposes.

“Ideally, image mosaics should be held to the same scientific standards of traceability as the science that facilitates them,” the authors said in the paper. “All acquired data must be returned to their source, all methods for mosaic construction must be reported and known artifacts and other limitations of the product must be reported. These standards have long been applied to the equipment that collects the data. And the science is derived from the image mosaic, but not for the mosaic products themselves.”

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