NASA has released an interactive map of Mars made from over 100,000 images taken by the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; the mosaic is the highest-resolution global portrait of Mars ever made.
The map is the creation of scientists at the Murray Laboratory for Planetary Visualization at the California Institute of Technology. Comprising 5.7 trillion pixels, it offers a sweeping, black-and-white look at Mars. It is a tremendous amount of data, so you might find your computer (like mine) does some huffing and puffing to load it up.
The tool, hosted online by Caltech, offers shortcuts to some of the most popular sites on the Red Planet, including its largest mountain, Olympus Mons, and Jezero Crater, the dried-up lakebed where the Perseverance rover mission is underway. Visitors can also bookmark locations, measure distances, and toggle layers like rover paths, a topographical heat map, and impact craters.
“For 17 years, MRO has been revealing Mars to us as no one had seen it before,” said Rich Zurek, the mission’s project scientist, in a JPL release. “This mosaic is a wonderful new way to explore some of the imagery that we’ve collected.”
The images come from the MRO’s context camera, or CTX. The camera is regularly observing the Martian surface as the orbiter whips around the planet; last year, researchers spotted a major meteorite impact on the planet’s surface, thanks to the black-and-white imager. The mosaic image was stitched together algorithmically; anything the computer couldn’t contextualize was then added manually.
If you’re trying to brush up on your Mars knowledge or just understand where all the missions (past and present) are in relation to one another, this comprehensive portrait of the Red Planet will be invaluable.