NASA Releases Eighth-degree topographic shade maps of Mars

According to NASA: "Using the currently-released (through August, 1999) data, and some later data that has yet to be validated, the MOLA Science Team has produced eighth-degree topographic shade maps of Mars. These files are shown here as low resolution JPEGs. At a resolution of 300 dots per inch, these images subtend a width of 9.6 inches. These images are suitable for use as a background map for publication-quality graphics. The grayscale maps are produced as a gradient from 30 clockwise from the top of the rectangle, then normalized by an arctangent function. These are merged with topographic color contours to produce images using the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) free software of Wessel and Smith.

MOLA (Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter) is the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, an instrument currently in orbit around Mars on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. The instrument transmits infrared laser pulses towards Mars at a rate of 10 Hz and measures the time of flight to determine the range of the MGS spacecraft to the Martian surface. The range measurements are used to construct a precise topographic map of Mars that has many applications to studies in geophysics, geology and atmospheric circulation. "

Further information

  • High resolution images are available at
  • Whole Mars Catalog
  • Mars, SpaceRef Directory
  • The Mars Society
  • Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) Science Investigation
  • Mars Global Surveyor
  • Mars Exploration: AAAS Ponders: "Where do we go from here?", SpaceRef

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