NASA releases first pieces of multispectral maps of Mars.

Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first portions of the multispectral maps of the surface of Mars on June 29, 2022. The multicoloured 5.6 GB map covers 86 percent of the Red Planet’s surface. The map in its entirety will be released by the American space agency over the next six months in batches.

The first portions were released from NASA’s Planetary Data System, an open archive of all digital data that the agency has collected through planetary flights and other missions. The first batch of the map contains 51,000 images, with each image representing a strip of land 540 km long and 10 km wide.

The data for the maps was captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the longest orbiting satellite around the planet. The MRO has been capturing the surface of the planet in search of minerals using its Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) tool. While the initial target for the CRISM coverage was only 80 percent of the Martian surface, the three cryocoolers used to keep the spectrometer on the CRISM chilled effectively exceeded its lifecycle.

The cryocoolers reached the end of their lifecycle in 2017, and as such one of the two spectrometers aboard CRISM is now on standby. While CRISM may be able to record data a few more times, the maps are the last full wavelength observations captured by the tool before it is decommissioned.

The maps were crucial for selecting the sites for other missions, especially for the NASA rover Perseverance. Perseverance landed in the Jezero Crater, where it is exploring an ancient river delta, after CRISM identified the crater as having a high likelihood of once being flooded.

Source: www.cnbctv18.com


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