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Gusev Crater - Spirit Rover

Meridiani Planum- Opportunity Rover

These interactive let you explore the MER landing sites in 3D. Gusev crater was the landing site for the Spirit rover. Meridiani Planum is the landing site for the Opportunity rover.

This is the real thing: a 3D model of the planet's surface created using data from orbiting spacecraft. You can:

  • examine the surface from a distance, changing lighting to enhance features, and
  • fly over the surface, looking for markers hidden in the terrain.

About 250kb: opens in new window.
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Gusev Crater

Launch Interactive

Meridiani Planum
Launch Interactive

How'd we do it?

The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft has several instruments on it. Two are imagers that take pictures of the planet. Another is MOLA: the Mars Orbiting Laser Altimeter. MOLA bounces a laser off Mars and records the time it takes to return to the spacecraft. From that it can calculate its distance to the planet to within a bit over a foot. MOLA does this over and over, methodically mapping out the surface of the planet.

The MOLA science team has used that data to create an elevation map of Mars. And that can be used to create a 3D mesh of the planet. Images from the orbiting cameras are then draped over that mesh to create a 3D world.

More like this

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

Explore more

MOLA at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Mars Global Surveyor at JPL

The MER site at JPL

The Athena site at Cornell


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