Image of the Day: Valles Marineris -The “Grand Canyon of Mars”

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Valles Marineris sprawls wide enough to reach from Los Angeles to nearly New York City, if it were located on Earth. The red outline box shows the location of a second, full-resolution image (below) that shows a 90-mile-wide portion of the giant canyon system. Landslide debris and gullies in the canyon walls on Mars can be seen at 100 meters (330 feet) per pixel. 

A camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has helped develop the most accurate global Martian map ever. Researchers and the public can access the map via several websites and explore and survey the entire surface of the Red Planet.

The map was constructed using nearly 21,000 images from the Thermal Emission Imaging System, or THEMIS, a multi-band infrared camera on Odyssey. Researchers at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility in Tempe, in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have been compiling the map since THEMIS observations began eight years ago.

The pictures have been smoothed, matched, blended and cartographically controlled to make a giant mosaic. Users can pan around images and zoom into them. At full zoom, the smallest surface details are 100 meters (330 feet) wide. While portions of Mars have been mapped at higher resolution, this map provides the most accurate view so far of the entire planet.

The new map is available at: http://www.mars.asu.edu/maps/?layer=thm_dayir_100m_v11 .

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Image Credits: NASA/JPL/Arizona State University 

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