Monday, March 13, 2006

Google Mars

If discovering impact craters with Google Earth isn't enough for your inner scientist, maybe it's time to try Google Mars: the guys at Mountain View just launched a new tool meant to be a window on the Red Planet.

The usual markers are organized into categories: Regions, Spacecrafts (it's a dump, down there!), Stories, Mountains, Canyons, Dunes, Plains, Ridges, Craters.

The Planet can be explored in three modes: Elevation (a shaded relief map, generated with data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. This map is color-coded by altitude, so you can use the color key at the lower left to estimate elevations), Visible (a mosaic of images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. MOC is like the digital camera you have at home. Basically, this is what your eyes would see if you were in orbit around Mars) and Infrared (a mosaic of infrared images taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Warmer areas appear brighter, and colder areas are darker. Clouds and dust in the atmosphere are transparent in the infrared, making this the sharpest global map of Mars that's ever been made).

P.S.: currently, the Google Earth client doesn't support it.


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