Embark on a Mars tour with interactive visualization by OpenSpace

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Thanks to the NASA’s imagery and effort of the team behind OpenSpace data-visualization software you can now go to Mars and never leave the Earth.

With this software, you can reach all the mountaintops on Mars and dive through Valles Marineris canyons, and all that with with high resolution view thanks to the NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Ant there’s more, makers of the OpenSpace said their goal isto map the whole universe using the scientific data.

Orbiter’s Context Camera (CTX) and Spirit and Opportunity, Mars rovers helped to map 90 percent of the planet’s surface and present it in resolution of 20 feet per pixel. Including high resolution images from spacecraft’s HiRISE camera (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) at OpenSpace researches made that into a resolution of 25 centimeters per pixel, 24 times sharper than before.

HiRISE was used by SpaceX and NASA to find landing sites for upcoming missions like the Mars 2020 rover and Red Dragon. The camera can record smallest details in the terrain, which allows the researchers to determine is it safe for a rover to land and drive around there. HiRise is also used to study other aspects of the Martian surface.

More than 4,500 stereo images are taken bu HiRISE since MRO landed, eleven years ago. The map of the terrain includes 380 images because the U.S. Geological Survey only processed that amount so far.

And that is where OpenSpace comes in. By partnering with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and Linköping University in Sweden, researches and student interns started turning data into interactive vizualization. “We have figured out the technique where we can do that ourselves with a massive photogrammetry tool kit called the NASA Ames Stereo Pipeline,” said Carter Emmart, the director of the astrovisualization program at the museum and creative lead of OpenSpace.

NASA told Emmart and his colleagues that this images are “extremely data intensive,” and because of that working with them can be very hard. But he said that they have “worked that out with our production systems staff here at the museum and together with the high school students, so we have a pipeline for cherry-picking essentially these interesting areas that have not been processed yet.”

Using this, you can see high resolution and 3D renditions of the Martian surface, you can see some features like sharp mountain peaks and football-sized rocks. You can also find landing site of the Curiosity, where some hardware was left, and the remains of the
European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli lander that crashed.

Emmart created with his students “a unique visual system for looking at what we call our digital universe — data that essentially goes from the Earth to the macroscales of the universe.”

Visualizations are also planned for the moon, Mercury, Pluto and couple of Saturn’s moons, and hopefully whole universe. OpenSpace also made visualizations of the solar flares and coronal mass ejections and other space weather events.

Emmart said all of the visualizations will be eventually available on YouTube in the form of 360-degree videos. At the moment, everyone who wants to see this do that at the New York’s Hayden Planetarium.Emmart will give persentation on August 1st and MASRBAND will accompany him and cover the musical aspect.