Mark Hoffman | Science World Report
Mapping the surface of Mars in 3D is now 90% finished by the high-resolution stereo camera on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express, about 9 years after the orbital insertion of the satellite.
The mosaic of the map consists of 2702 individual swaths of the martian surface, providing a record of all locations observed by the camera simultaneously in red, green, blue and nadir channels. Making those took the satellite 10 821 orbits, with 61.5% of the surface now mapped in high-resolution of 20 m per pixel or better. One of the more spectacular results came out this January with detailed and plastic topographical images of an ancient river valley.
On top of the mapping, the orbiter which celebrates ten years since launch this June, is also performing mineralogical mapping of the surface, radar sounding of the subsurface structure down to the permafrost, precise determination of the atmospheric circulation and composition, and study of the interaction of the atmosphere with the interplanetary medium.
The map shown is formatted to be equatorially aligned, meaning that regions at the poles appear distorted – also, images that were particularly affected by dust or atmospheric effects have not been included in the mosaic…