Most Accurate Map of Mars Yet Allows Public to Explore the Planet

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft, and the camera onboard, have helped to create the most accurate and complete map of Mars in existence.  Constructed with nearly 21,000 images, the map accurately depicts surface features of the planet to within a pixel or two of their exact location.

Researchers at Arizona State’s Mars Space Flight Facility have worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to compile the maps.  The maps have been a work in progress during the eight years since the Thermal Emission Imaging System known as THEMIS started gathering images in 2002.  THEMIS is the camera found onboard the Mars spacecraft.  The camera uses multi-band infrared technology to capture the images used in assembling the map. 

The map has been made available for both researchers and the public.  Users can access the map through several different websites.  The complete map can be found at http://www.mars.asu.edu/maps/?layer=thm_dayir_100m_v11.

The research team encourages the public to take part in the Mars exploration project by helping them align the images to within a pixel’s accuracy at the NASA run website “Be a Martian.”  The website was developed with the help of Microsoft Corp. and can be found at http://www.beamartian.jpl.nasa.org/maproom#/MapMars.

Researchers working on the project are excited about the potential this map provides for allowing a more complete picture of the Red Planet’s current configuration as well future Mars exploration.  They have said that the collaborative effort has laid the foundational map of Mars research for years to come.

The Mars Odyssey mission was launched in April of 2001, and landed on the planet in October of the same year.  Scientific missions began in February of 2002.


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