It will be a long time until actual human expeditions to the red planet take place, but don’t you worry folks, NASA recently released a website which lets you explore Mars’ features. The service is called Mars Trek and it lets you explore Mars through interactive maps made up of images and data from the space agency, including rover mission photos.

The app is more or less like Google Earth for Mars and you can even search for places of note to explore. The planet has been mapped and there are various bookmarks that NASA has placed for you to run through including the landing sites for all four of NASA’s Mars rovers (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity), as well as the Phoenix lander. The red planet can be viewed in both 2D and 3D and you can zoom in to get a better look at the topography.

The service has many exciting features which include overlaying visual data supplied by various instruments aboard the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, whilst exploring the terrain, viewing a colour map of elevation using data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, topography view in black-and-white using data from the Mars Orbiter Camera and viewing landscape features in thermal infrared and visible near-infrared using data from the Thermal Emission Spectrometer.

The app allows you to explore all the important features of Mars including Olympus Mons, the highest peak in the solar system, Valles Marineris, a gash of canyons in the planet’s crust over 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles long), probably caused by tectonic movements and much more.

If you come across a feature of Mars that you wish to display at your home or workplace, there is one feature of the app that could be quite useful for that. Using a built-in tool you can select an area or choose a pre-selected area and download a high-resolution STL file that can be printed using a 3D printer.

Not just that, you could print the STL files onto flat planes too, if you wish to, or you don’t want to put in as much an effort to get a 3D sphere.

Not long time back, ISRO too released a 3D mapped video of the Martian surface, detailing that topographical features of the red planet, all made from photographs clicked by Asia’s first successful probe to Mars, the Mars orbiter mission.


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