Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aging Spacecraft Makes Best-Ever Map of Mars

The oldest spacecraft now operating around Mars has produced the best ever map of the Red Planet. NASA's Mars Odyssey reached the planet in 2001 and researchers have now stitched together 21,000 of its images into a global map.

When seen as a whole, the gray-scale map isn't much to look at, but its power snaps into focus when viewers zoom in on particular features, whose details can be seen at scales as small as 100 metres across - see a 140-km-wide image of Mars's "Grand Canyon" below. (Cameras such as HiRISE on the newer Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can spot things about 1 metre wide, but have covered only small portions of the planet.)

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