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This interactive Martian mosaic from NASA is the coolest thing I’ve seen this year

Published Apr 6th, 2023 5:10PM EDT
Image: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

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It’s really hard not to get excited about all the exploration humanity has conducted on Mars. Not only has NASA set up the Mars sample return, which promises to teach us more about the Martian surface itself, but now an interactive Martian mosaic lets us happily explore Mars in great detail.

The mosaic was created using images and data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Caltech’s Bruce Murray Laboratory for Planetary Visualization created the mosaic. The mosaic comprises over 110,000 images of the Martian surface and can be accessed on the Murray Lab’s website.

According to a post shared by NASA, the interactive Martian mosaic is so large that the entire thing was printed out it would completely cover the Rose Bowl Stadium in California. I think what makes this interactive tool so cool, though, is how easy it is to maneuver around the Martian surface.

Martian mosaic image
This image showcases how Caltech’s new Martian mosaic used images from the MRO to create a beautiful and interactive exploration tool. Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

By clicking buttons situated at the bottom of the tool, you can zip around the surface to the locations of iconic exploratory missions, like Perseverance’s trip through the Jezero Crater. You can even see the path the rover has followed as it explored the surface of the Red Planet.

The goal, the people behind the project say, is to make Mars exploration more open and available to anyone. “I wanted something that would be accessible to everyone,” Jay Dickson, the image processing scientist who led the project and manages the Murray Lab, shared in a statement.

Dickson says that the tool is so easy to use that his mother, who is 78, could interact and explore the Red Planet using the Martian mosaic. Another excellent part of the mosaic allows you to jump around to impact craters, showing how damaged and scarred Mars is.

Overall, the mosaic is one of the coolest tools we’ve seen released to help regular everyday people fully explore Mars. Because it’s so easy to use and offers so much detail in its images, the Martian mosaic will surely become a favorite for space lovers everywhere.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter continues to take photos of the Martian surface and has captured data of almost every inch of the planet. That means the mosaic offers an in-depth look at almost every part of the planet you could want to visit.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.