Love 3-D imagery of Mars? There’s now a firehose just for you! The WorldWide Telescope has teamed up with NASA to use images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera to provide a high-resolution 3-D map of the Red Planet. Included are fully-interactive images and the latest and greatest NASA data, which will allow for a virtual way to explore Mars and perhaps to even make your own scientific discoveries. This is the highest-resolution fully interactive map of Mars ever created, and includes guided video tours with two NASA scientists, James Garvin of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Carol Stoker of Ames.
Garvin’s tour walks viewers through the geological history of Mars and discusses three possible landing sites for human missions there. Each landing site highlights a different geological era of the planet.
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Stoker’s tour addresses the question: “Is there life on Mars?” and describes the findings of NASA’s Mars Phoenix Lander.
The Intelligent Robotics Group at Ames Research Center developed open source software that runs on the NASA Nebula cloud computing platform to create and host the high-resolution maps. The maps contain 74,000 images from Mars Global Surveyor’s Mars Orbiter Camera and more than 13,000 high-resolution images of Mars taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. Each individual HiRISE image contains more than a billion pixels. The complete maps were rendered into image mosaics containing more than half a billion smaller images.
“These incredibly detailed maps will enable the public to better experience and explore Mars,” said Michael Broxton, a research scientist in the Intelligent Robotics Group at Ames. “The collaborative relationship between NASA and Microsoft Research was instrumental for creating the software that brings these new Mars images into people’s hands, classrooms and living rooms.”