Researchers Have Created an Incredibly Detailed Global Map of Mars

A team of scientists led by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Center for Space Science has created a high-resolution map of Mars that holds great potential for researchers aiming to understand the red planet’s history, and how its arid, barren landscape came to be.

Using data collected from orbit as part of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), researchers created the global Mars Map, reports SciTechDaily.

Announced at the end of March, the map features new images captured by the state-of-the-art Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI) that’s aboard the EMM, which is also known as “Hope,” or Al-Amal. While orbiting Mars, the EMM has captured more than 3,000 observations.

Mars Map Emirates Mars Mission, UAE and NYUAD

The EXI is a multi-wavelength radiation-tolerant camera that captures 12-megapixel images. The instrument was jointly developed by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), the home of the UAE National Space Program. “EXI captures high-resolution images of Mars which allows scientists to study the lower Martian atmosphere in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths,” explains LASP.

The team, led by Dimitra Atri, is confident that its Mars Map will be a valuable resource for scientists of all levels, and the team hopes its work will motivate young people to pursue careers in STEM disciplines in the UAE.

“We plan to make our map available to the entire planet, as part of the new and more advanced Atlas of Mars, which we have been working on, and will be available in both English and Arabic once published. The hope is that this accessibility will make it a great tool for researchers, and also students to learn more about Mars, and showcase the possibilities that the space sector in the UAE can offer,” says Atri.

Mars Map Emirates Mars Mission, UAE and NYUAD

The Maps Map, available in English and Arabic, shows many regions of Mars in astonishing detail, highlighting the planet’s key features. “For example, its polar ice caps, mountains, volcanoes, remnants of ancient rivers, lakes, valleys, and impact craters are visible,” explains NYUAD.

Detailed maps like this are essential to future Mars research. The map will also allow scientists to learn more about massive climate shifts, such as the one Mars experienced. These insights may prove beneficial to research about Earth’s changing climate.

Mars Map Emirates Mars Mission, UAE and NYUAD

“The complete Mars Map also brings the UAE and the Arab world another step closer to achieving EMM’s ambitious mission goal, to provide a complete global picture of the Martian climate. More than 30 previous spacecraft have only managed to capture a snapshot of the Mars weather, whilst EMM will follow the seasonal changes throughout a Martian year,” Atri says.

“The Hope probe is helping researchers to create this global image of the planet due to its strategic position. Hope circles Mars in an elliptical orbit that allows it to observe from much further away than any other spacecraft. This strategic position is helping researchers to create a global image of the planet.”

Mars Map Emirates Mars Mission, UAE and NYUAD

EMM is the UAE and Arab world’s first interplanetary mission. Following its commission in 2014, the EMM spacecraft launched from Japan on July 20, 2020, and the Hope probe entered Mars’ orbit on February 9, 2021.

PetaPixel recently reported on another incredible milestone for the UAE’s Emirates Mars Mission — the release of the most detailed images of Deimos, the smaller of Mars’ two natural satellites.

Mars Map Emirates Mars Mission, UAE and NYUAD
This is a screenshot from the Mars Atlas. The entire atlas is available to download from NYUAD.

While PetaPixel has included some amazing images from the Mars Map, the Atlas of Mars features significantly more images and fantastic details about Mars. The entire atlas can be downloaded from Google Drive.

Image credits: EMM/EXI/Dimitra Atri/NYU Abu Dhabi Center for Space Science