NASA Mars Orbiter Releasing One of Its Last Rainbow-Colored Maps

Fri, 24 Jun 2022 06:12:01 GMT
Space Daily

Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 24, 2022 Scientists are about to get a new look at Mars, thanks to a...

Scientists are about to get a new look at Mars, thanks to a multicolored 5.6-gigapixel map.

Covering 86% of the Red Planet's surface, the map reveals the distribution of dozens of key minerals.

The first portions of this map were released by NASA's Planetary Data System.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, has been mapping minerals on the Red Planet for 16 years, with its Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM. Using detectors that see visible and infrared wavelengths, the CRISM team has previously produced high-resolution mineral maps that provide a record of the formation of the Martian crust and where and how it was altered by water.

These maps have been crucial to helping scientists understand how lakes, streams, and groundwater shaped the planet billions of years ago.

NASA has also used CRISM's maps to select landing sites for other spacecraft, as with Jezero Crater, where NASA's Perseverance rover is exploring an ancient river delta.

The first piece of this new map includes 51,000 images, each of which represents a "Strip" 336 miles long by 6 miles wide that was captured as MRO passed overhead. The resolution is lower than CRISM maps made from targeted observations because the data was acquired with the instrument looking straight down, a different imaging strategy designed to cover much more of the planet.

So this will be CRISM's last map covering the instrument's full wavelength range.

One last map will be released within the year, covering visible wavelengths and focusing only on iron-bearing minerals; this will have twice the spatial resolution of the latest map.

"Analyses based on these final maps will provide new insights into the history of Mars for many years to come."