Researchers create Martian map using UAE's Hope probe images

Astronomers have been observing and studying Mars for centuries, but the systematic mapping of Mars began in the 19th century.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Red planet

Maps have played an essential role in helping us better comprehend our home planet. These tools visually represent the Earth's surface features, allowing us to navigate, study geography, monitor changes, and conduct scientific studies. 

As space organizations prepare to make humanity an interplanetary species, it is critical to sketch and construct a Mars map for better exploration and possible habitation. 

A complete map of Mars would be invaluable for mission planning, scientific research, local resource extraction, and ensuring the safety and success of future Martian undertakings.

Recently, CNN reported that New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) researchers created Mars Atlas using data from the United Arab Emirates' Hope probe, which has been orbiting the planet since 2021. 

This was the UAE's first interplanetary mission, launched from Japan on July 20, 2020, and arrived in Martian orbit on February 9, 2021. 

Map composed of 3,000 images

This color composite map is based on nearly 3,000 high-resolution Martian surface photos captured by the orbiter's Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI). 

According to the report, this atlas will aid in determining the ideal areas for human settlements in terms of geography, climate, and resources. 

The CNN report adds that the NYUAD map has been included in NASA's Mars 24 software. It uses a variety of maps and data sources to provide a detailed representation of time on Mars

JMARS, a publicly accessible database used by NASA scientists for mission planning, has also included the atlas.

The same researchers produced another Mars map based on Hope probe images earlier this year. It displayed some of the most prominent Martian features, such as polar ice caps, mountains, volcanoes, old river gorges, lakes, valleys, and impact craters. 

Researchers create Martian map using UAE's Hope probe images
Composite color map of Mars using images from UAE's Hope probe.

Martian mapping started in the 19th century

It is not the first time that scientists have attempted to map Mars. 

Caltech scientists released a highly comprehensive mosaic map of Mars in April 2023, entitled the Global CTX Mosaic of Mars

It was assembled from 110,000 photos taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) black-and-white Context Camera (CTX). 

As per NASA, the interactive map included about 270 square feet (25 square meters) of surface area per pixel, making it the "highest-resolution global image of the Red Planet ever created."

Although astronomers have been observing and studying Mars for centuries, the systematic mapping of Mars began in the 19th century. 

Reportedly, astronomers Wilhelm Beer and Johann von Mädler in Germany created the first Martian map around 1840. Years later, in 1877, the map of Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli showed in vivid detail numerous features of Mars referred to as "canals" and "channels."

With the advent of spacecraft missions, the mapping of Mars dramatically improved. NASA's Mariner missions in the 1960s and 1970s provided close-up images and mapping data of Mars' surface features, such as lava flows and volcanoes.

NASA has generated various maps ever since, including a fully interactive 3D map of Mars in recent years.