This interactive lets you search for past and future landing sites on Mars. Look at each thumbnail, then find it and click on it in the larger image.

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Launch Interactive

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About the images

This activity uses two images of Mars. Each is part of a global image, using a "cylindrical projection" to show the planet as flat. It isn't quite the whole planet, since we only included the places with past or planned landing sites.

The first image is a mosaic from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) orbiter. Many individual images are pieced together to form a global map. It is a "visible" image, which means it is about what you'd see if you were looking at Mars in person.

The second is colored based on its elevation: blue is lower, green or yellow is higher. The elevation image was created using data from the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter (MOLA) onboard MGS. MOLA bounces a laser off the surface of the planet, then times how long it takes for the beam to return to the spacecraft. From that it can calculate its distance from the surface to an accuracy of a little over a foot. MOLA does this over and over as it orbits, eventually building up enough data for a global elevation map of the entire planet.

If you're looking for features that vary in elevation (like flood channels), this kind of map can make them much easier to see.

More like this

You can play with this same interactive for other parts of this site as well:

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Mars Global Surveyor at JPL

MOLA at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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