By BBC News
Scientists in Germany have pieced together a stunning mosaic image of the Martian surface.
The global “atlas” was painstakingly constructed from pictures sent back by a camera instrument on Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft, which is in orbit around the Red Planet.
The detailed mosaic should help better inform the selection of landing sites for future Martian missions.
It is the work of a team at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Lead author Dr Patrick McGuire recently presented the mosaic at the Mars 8 meeting in Pasadena, California. This version had a resolution of about 475m per pixel in a file that’s about 1GB in size. This, he said, made it “manageable to download or study”.
But Dr McGuire and colleagues Prof Stephan van Gasselt, Sebastian Walter and others want to ultimately push the resolution down to 12.5m per pixel – which would make it one of the most detailed semi-global representations of Mars available.
“To be able to view some of the geomorphological features at a resolution of 12.5m per pixel together with their regional and global context would be quite an advance,” Dr McGuire said.
Mars Express was launched in 2003 on a mission to gather scientific measurements of Mars’ atmosphere, surface and subsurface.