You can now visit Mars from the comfort of your own home using a new interactive map.
Aspiring astronauts can experience the sights and sounds of the red planet using virtual reality, a laptop or their phone.
The huge map includes the areas around the landing site of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover at Jezero Crater.
Users can stand on top of the rover at ground level — much like streetview in Google Maps — and gaze out over the surrounding desert landscape.
Steep slopes can be crossed and views can be seen from large scales to centimeters up close.
People can also select higher elevations and view the mountainous terrain with shots of the desolate planet in the background.
True 3D panorama images are combined with synthetically created orbital images and terrain data to create the online map.
Some images from the Mastacam-Z camera aboard the Mars 2020 Rover Perseverance have also been stitched together to form an easily accessible web browser view of the planet.
The sounds were recorded by the SuperCam instrument during the same rover mission.
The map was released at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain, by Sebastian Walter of the Freie Universität Berlin.
Mr Walter said: ‘Some of the slopes are quite steep, so be careful there if you want to avoid too much oxygen consumption.
‘To get a real sense of what to expect on your future Mars journey, you can click on one of the waypoint marker symbols to open a full screen 3D view or, if you have a Virtual Reality configuration, to enter a fully immersive environment.
“You can even hear the sounds of the robber when you’re close, but please don’t touch it or you’ll contaminate the probes.”
Users who gaze at the ‘Hogwallow Flats’ site see the remains of a delta of a river that flowed into Lake Jezero 3.5 billion years ago.
They will also see a white pebble among the dust, and some of the sedimentary rocks in Jezero Crater.
Lake Paleo is a quieter stop – users can gaze out over a simulated expanse of water expanded by suspected ancient lake shores while listening to the planet’s low hum.
The base layer of the map is created by data from three different instruments currently orbiting Mars: the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on Mars Express and the Context Camera (CTX) and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instruments. on Mars Exploration Orbiter.
The Jezero map builds on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express mission that has been trying to bring three-dimensional images of Mars to the Internet since 2004.
The other part comes from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA’s spacecraft that was sent to Mars in 2005 to study geology.
The Terrain Relative Navigation team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided the HiRISE data.
The map is the perfect tool for planning a future visit to Mars, with an interactive interface where you can choose from several basic data sets available.
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