Washington: New global maps of Mars, which have been released on the 10th anniversary of the launch of ESA`s Mars Express, show the distribution of minerals formed in water, by volcanic activity, and by weathering to create the dust that makes Mars red.
The maps have been built from ten years of data collected by the OMEGA mineralogical mapper on Mars Express, which determines the mineral composition of the Martian surface by analysing the spectrum of reflected sunlight.
Alvaro Gimenez, ESA`s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, said that the history of Mars is encoded in its minerals and the new global views are helping them to unlock the secrets of 4.6 billion years of planetary evolution.
He said that the atlas released will help them to determine future landing sites for the next generation of Mars landers and rovers, and identify sites of special interest for future manned missions.
Each map represents a different chapter in the story of geological evolution on Mars.
The first map shows the distribution of minerals formed in water, the next two show the distribution of minerals formed by volcanic activity, another map shows the distribution of dust created by weathering.