Sharing the excitement of Mars exploration!
The 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) have been acquiring infrared images of Mars for more than 16 years. The best-quality images from the mission have been compiled into a global mosaic at 100 m/pixel resolution and printed on a walkable basketball court-size vinyl mat to spread awareness and excitement about Mars exploration!
The size of the map (47.5ft x 95ft) was chosen to fit on a standard basketball court, so that a large number of schools will have a sufficiently large indoor surface on which to display the map for education and public outreach events. Due to the vinyl material used, the map must be displayed on smooth or carpeted surfaces in order to avoid damage. Displaying the map on uneven or rough surfaces could cause damage to the vinyl mat and/or the printed surface.
A simple cylindrical projection centered on the prime meridian was chosen because it maximizes use of the printed surface, which is inherently rectangular, while avoiding the division of any major surface regions between the two ends of the map.
In addition to the simple cylindrical map, there are two smaller (15ft x 15ft) polar stereographic maps centered at each pole, which will be displayed along with the simple cylindrical map when sufficient additional space is available. These smaller maps are designed to give participants a better understanding of the Martian poles, which are significantly distorted in the simple cylindrical map. Both polar maps use custom MOLA elevation color scales in order to better emphasize the topography of the ice deposits at each pole.