The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released the most thorough map of the Martian surface to date. The data for the new map was collected by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and ESA's Mars Express probe.
This global geologic map of Mars, which records the distribution of geologic units and landforms on the planet’s surface through time, is based on unprecedented variety, quality, and quantity of remotely sensed data acquired since the Viking Orbiters.
These data have provided morphologic, topographic, spectral, thermophysical, radar sounding, and other observations for integration, analysis, and interpretation in support of geologic mapping. In particular, the precise topographic mapping now available has enabled consistent morphologic portrayal of the surface for global mapping (whereas previously used visual-range image bases were less effective, because they combined morphologic and albedo information and, locally, atmospheric haze).
Also, thermal infrared image bases used for this map tended to be less affected by atmospheric haze and thus are reliable for analysis of surface morphology and texture at even higher resolution than the topographic products.
The new map confirms previous work suggesting that the Red Planet has continued to be geologically active up to today, and also reveals that the surface of Mars is older than previously thought. The new map will serve as an important reference for the origin, age, and historic change of geologic materials on Mars.
The official publication can be found here.
Source: SSERVI / USGS
- Tanaka, K.L., Skinner, J.A., Jr., Dohm, J.M., Irwin, R.P., III, Kolb, E.J., Fortezzo, C.M., Platz, T., Michael, G.G., and Hare, T.M., 2014, Geologic map of Mars: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3292, scale 1:20,000,000, pamphlet 43 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sim3292.
Featured image: USGS