Mars: Visualizing Ancient Hydrology with Software and 3D Models


Beau Srinivasan

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In the past 50 years, Mars has become a very popular target for exploration, using both in-situ and remote sensing instruments. There are five satellites currently surveying the planet and two rovers still exploring its surface. A lot of progress has been made since the sixties but, satellite images, the most plentiful type of reconnaissance, are still restrictive to scientists and the public alike. As a result, scientific investigation relies primarily on two-dimensional representations of the Martian surface. It is understood that, in order to better understand the surface, a vertical, or three-dimensional, representation of the landscape must be developed. This work uses stereo pairs and specialized programs to create a three-dimensional model of the ground. Having a truer representation of the Martian topography will allow scientists to better model its surface hydrology—or water routing—there is overwhelming geologic evidence of ancient water flows all over the surface of Mars. Using GIS (geographic information system) software, a model can be created depicting hydrologic flow across the surface. This particular piece of Martian land, located in Gale Crater, is covered in water features; smooth surfaces, deltas, and a riverbed. Translating raw data into a more digestible and visual form will elucidate a deeper understanding of Martian hydrology as well as become more enjoyable to the public.

Faculty Mentor

Nathan Amador

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