Virtual hiking map of Jezero crater, Mar

Image: Map view with the underlying dataset, the clickable viewing points marked as drops.
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Prospective Mars explorers can now stroll around the landing site of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover using interactive map (With orbital images and terrain data as well as artificial and real 3D panoramic views of Jezero Crater and the surrounding area. The map, accessible through a regular web browser, was presented today at the Europlanet Science Conference (EPSC) 2022 in Granada, Spain, by Sebastian Walter of the Free University of Berlin.

“The map is the perfect tool for planning a future visit to Mars, with an interactive interface where you can choose from among the different basic datasets available. Some of the slopes are very steep, so watch out for those if you want to avoid consuming too much oxygen!” said Sebastian Walter. “To get a real feel of what to expect on your future trip to Mars, you can click on one of the waypoint marker icons to enter either a full-screen 3D view or, if you have a VR setup, to enter a fully immersive environment. You can even listen to the sounds of the trolley The rangers if they are standing near you, but please do not touch them – otherwise you will contaminate the tentacles.”

The map allows virtual hikers to quickly zoom in and out and pan through scenes, so they can explore the landscape from large scales down to centimeter detail. Some 360° panoramic images combined with path points were artificially rendered from orbital image data. Others are true panoramas stitched together from many single images taken by the Mastcam-Z camera instrument aboard the Mars 2020 Rover Perseverance, provided by the University of Arizona. The sounds were recorded by the SuperCam tool in the same rover mission.

The map’s underlying layer is an integrated dataset derived from three different instruments currently orbiting Mars: the HRSC on the Mars Express, the Context Camera (CTX) and the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instruments on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). HiRISE data was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) team.

The Jezero map is based on the ESA’s Mars Express mission’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) instrument data portal, which provides tools to visualize and publish large amounts of Mars imagery and terrain data in an online environment.

“Initially, we created Jezero Map as a communication application to complement the HRSC Mapserver tool, which supports professional scientists to explore the surface of Mars,” said Sebastian Walter. “But as the rover returns more and more high-resolution image data and even audio recordings, it turns out to be the perfect tool for visualizing this data in a scientific context on its own.”

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