New images reveal Mars' surface in unprecedented detail.
You may not have seen images of Mars clearer than this. Researchers from the University College London have applied a new revolutionary technique to create images that highlights minute details on the Martian surface and reveal the planet at a resolution five times greater than any other instrument.
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The images show ancient lake beds on Mars, tracks of a rover and the location of the lost Beagle 2 spacecraft in an unprecedented detail. Beagle 2 spacecraft went missing in 2003 and was presumed destroyed until it was found earlier last year.
Using staking and matching technique, researchers have developed the sharpest ever images of Mars’ surface. The images were originally captured by NASA’s eagle-eyed Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) over the years. But now researchers used a technique offcially called Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR) to stake and match images of same area at different angles. The technique allows us to see objects as small as 2 inches.
“We now have the equivalent of drone-eye vision anywhere on the surface of Mars where there are enough clear repeat pictures. It allows us to see objects in much sharper focus from orbit than ever before and the picture quality is comparable to that obtained from landers,” said co-author professor Jan-Peter Muller from UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory.
“As more pictures are collected, we will see increasing evidence of the kind we have only seen from the three successful rover missions to date. This will be a game changer and the start of a new era in planetary exploration.”
The technique will not only enable scientists to explore more terrain on red planet but also help them detect the remnants of past failed landings and help find safer locations for rover landings in future.
The new technique can produce supersharp images which are not possible to achieve even with the most powerful telescopes orbiting around Mars today. The resolution of regular telescopes is limited to just around 10 inches mainly due to interference from planetary atmosphere.
“Using novel machine vision methods, information from lower resolution images can be extracted to estimate the best possible true scene. This technique has huge potential to improve our knowledge of a planet’s surface from multiple remotely sensed images,” said Yu Tao, lead author of the study.
“In the future, we will be able to recreate rover-scale images anywhere on the surface of Mars and other planets from repeat image stacks.”
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