NASA has published an amazingly detailed map of Mars which was painstakingly rendered using nearly 21,000 images gathered by Odyssey’s Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS).
Users with large bandwidth, powerful computers and software capable of handling images in the gigabyte range can download the full-resolution map in sections.
According to Philip Christensen, director of the Mars Space Flight Facility, the pictures have been smoothed, matched, blended and “cartographically controlled” to create a giant mosaic.
“Users can pan around images and zoom into them. At full zoom, the smallest surface details are 330 feet wide. While portions of Mars have been mapped at higher resolution, this map provides the most accurate view so far of the entire planet,” explained Christensen.
“[In addition], we’ve tied the images to the cartographic control grid provided by the US Geological Survey, which also modeled the THEMIS camera’s optics. This approach lets us remove all instrument distortion, so features on the ground are correctly located to within a few pixels and provide the best global map of Mars to date.”
The Mars Odyssey was launched in April 2001 and reached the Red Planet in October 2001. The mission is currently managed by JPL, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.