How did we create the Mars map?

The map that started it all. Planetary Printing Press was born through the amazing support of our Kickstarter backers in May 2017. This map represents the wonder and awe of exploration and our firm belief that humanity's future must be interplanetary. We used elevation data from MOLA, an instrument aboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. Three layers (hillshade, elevation, and tint) were composited into one seamless image. The images below summarizes this process: 

1. Data gathering: This is a digital terrain model, visualized from MOLA's raw data. Shades of grey represent elevation.

2. Rendering the surface: Computer simulated light rays generate surface highlights and shadows. This map utilizes a multi-directional hillshade algorithm which produces a very detailed surface.

3. Putting it all together: The layers are merged using a combination of pan-sharpening, contrast, and gamma stretching algorithms. Together, these techniques bring out the nuanced details inherent in the source data.

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