Years of Observing Combined Into Best-Yet Look at Mars Canyon

Mar 13, 2006
Years of Observing Combined Into Best-Yet Look at Mars Canyon
Melas Chasma, from "Flight Through Mariner Valley," a video produced for NASA by JPL.

A new view of the biggest canyon in the solar system, merging hundreds of photos from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, offers scientists and the public an online resource for exploring the entire canyon in detail.

This canyon system on Mars, named Valles Marineris, stretches as far as the distance from California to New York. Steep walls nearly as high as Mount Everest give way to numerous side canyons, possibly carved by water. In places, walls have shed massive landslides spilling far out onto the canyon floor.

A simulated fly-through using the newly assembled imagery is available online at www.nasa.gov/mission_pages
/mars/missions/odyssey/20060313.html The fly-through plus tools for wandering across and zooming into the large image are at themis.asu.edu .

"We picked Valles Marineris to make this first mosaic because it's probably the most complex, interesting feature on the entire planet," said Dr. Phil Christensen of Arizona State University, Tempe. He is the principal investigator for Mars Odyssey's versatile camera, the Thermal Emission Imaging System. "To understand many of the processes on Mars -- erosion, landsliding and the effects of water -- you really need to have a big-picture view but still be able to see the details."

Small parts of the canyon have been seen at higher resolution, but at 100 meters (328 feet) per pixel, the new view has sharper resolution than any previous imaging of the entire canyon.

In addition to the completed mosaic of Valles Marineris images, the camera team has also prepared an online data set of nearly the entire planet of Mars at 232 meters (760 feet) per pixel, the most detailed global view of the red planet. The team plans to post 100-meter-resolution mosaics of other regions of Mars in coming months.

Odyssey reached Mars in 2001. The Thermal Emission Imaging System began observing the planet systematically in February 2002 both in visible wavelengths and in infrared wavelengths, which are better for seeing surface details through Mars' atmospheric dust. As the spacecraft passes over an area, the camera records images of swaths 32 kilometers wide (20 miles wide). More than three years of observations made at infrared wavelengths during Martian daytime are combined into the assembled view of Valles Marineris and the global image data set.

Mars Odyssey is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The orbiter began an extended mission in August 2004 after successfully completing its primary mission.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Beauty from chaos on Mars

Apr 10, 2014

Beautiful streamlined islands and narrow gorges were carved by fast-flowing water pounding through a small, plateau region near the southeastern margin of the vast Vallis Marineris canyon system.

Martian scars

Oct 11, 2013

Ripped apart by tectonic forces, Hebes Chasma and its neighbouring network of canyons bear the scars of the Red Planet's early history.

Explosive crater twins on Mars

Apr 12, 2013

(Phys.org) —Dramatic underground explosions, perhaps involving ice, are responsible for the pits inside these two large martian impact craters, imaged by ESA's Mars Express on 4 January.

New images show a 'living' Mars

Jan 03, 2013

Over the years, scientists have found evidence revealing that an ocean may have covered parts of the Red Planet billions of years ago. Others suggest that a future terraformed Mars could be lush with oceans ...

The Solar System's grandest canyon

Oct 23, 2012

Earth's Grand Canyon inspires awe for anyone who casts eyes upon the vast river-cut valley, but it would seem nothing more than a scratch next to the cavernous scar of Valles Marineris that marks the face ...

Recommended for you

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

2 hours ago

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

4 hours ago

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

5 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

20 hours ago

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Habitable exoplanets are bad news for humanity

Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth ...

Kazakh satellite to be launched into orbit

Kazakhstan's first-ever Earth observation satellite is to be fired into orbit next week from the European spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana, launch company Arianespace said.

Professional and amateur astronomers join forces

(Phys.org) —Long before the term "citizen science" was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours ...

First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project

A NASA scientist is launching a one-to-two-year pilot project this summer that takes advantage of U.S. high-voltage power transmission lines to measure a phenomenon that has caused widespread power outages ...