PerspectivePlanetary Science

The Surface of Mars: Not Just Dust and Rocks

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Science  27 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5628, pp. 2043-2044
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082927

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Summary

About 25 years ago, the Viking orbiter returned the first thermal infrared maps of Mars. But these maps of the thermal inertia--or rate of temperature change--of the planet's surface were not of sufficiently high resolution to provide detailed insights into the bedrock geology of the planet. This is now set to change. In his Perspective, Golombek highlights the report by Christensen et al. of the first data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on Mars Global Surveyor. The new data set provides high-resolution thermal inertia maps that will provide unprecedented insights into the geologic history and evolution of Mars.