Now, I guess I will never travel to Mars. But at least, I may have soon the opportunity to get detailed topographical maps of the red planet - that's what I learned today when browsing the German news magazine Spiegel-Online.
A sheet of the smallest-scale topographical map available for Mars. It shows a region called Iani Chaos on the scale 1:50 000 with contour lines only 50 meters apart. (Source: ESA)
This map was created by a team of planetologists at the Freie Universität Berlin and cartographers at the Technische Universität Berlin, using data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera HRSC on board the ESA probe Mars Express.
Mars Express is in orbit around Mars since December 2003. The camera has been designed by the FU Berlin group and developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and it is mapping the entire planet in full colour and with a resolution of about 10 metres, going down to a resolution of two metres for selected regions. Since it has a stereoscopic view, it also allows to reconstruct the profile of the surface. Here, you can find much more details about the camera and how it works.
When this cartography project will be finished, the "Topographic Image Map Mars 1:200, 000" will cover the complete surface of the red planet in 10,372 individual sheets. At least, the future astronauts exploring Mars won't get lost!
TAGS: ASTRONOMY, PLANETS, MARS