Washington: The US Geological Survey (USGS) has developed the most detailed map of Mars to date, which includes topographic and thermal information as well as data on the properties of the Martian surface.
Images captured by the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet enabled the development of the new map, which improves previous versions dating back to the 1970s and the 1980s, the USGS stated on its website.
The map uses data of the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a system that captures thermal emission images, based on the infrared radiation spectrum installed on the Odyssey.
Robin Fergason from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Arizona led the project in collaboration with researchers of the Mars Space Center of Arizona State University.
"We used more than 20,000 THEMIS nighttime temperature images to generate the highest resolution surface property map of Mars ever created," Fergason said in a statement on the website of Arizona State University.
"Now these data are freely available to researchers and the public alike," said the scientist.
She explained that "darker areas in the map are cooler at night, have a lower thermal inertia, and likely contain fine particles such as dust, silt, or fine sand".
"The brighter regions are warmer and have surfaces with higher thermal inertia. These consist perhaps of coarser sand, surface crusts, rock fragments, bedrock, or combinations of these materials," she added.