"Hiking maps" for Mars

TopoToday, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that they had produced the first “hiking maps” of Mars — essentially, high-resolution color topographic maps. These maps were made from stereo images taken by the Mars Express orbiter’s High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC).

Unfortunately, the ESA website doesn’t seem to provide any way for you to either make your own maps, or to order any that have been made so far, so this achievement ranks somewhere between “bragging rights” and “proof of concept” in my book. The ESA press release states that “The maps are a demonstration of the kind of products that can be derived from the HRSC experiment” — lots of wiggle room there.

Maybe as more of the planet’s surface is imaged with HRSC, someone at ESA will make the maps publicly available in some fashion. After all, the U.S. Geological Survey has already done this for quite a bit of Mars data collected from various U.S. spacecraft.

Ah, well, one can still dream. Not that you could lace up your hiking boots and wander around there any time soon, but you have to admit that the views (and the atmosphere) would take your breath away

Update: lots of other sites are now covering this — see also The Write Stuff, The Planetary Society, SpaceDaily,  SpaceRef, and Space.com.

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