Project full title
Merged products (in GIS and as maps) of orbital and in situ data of Gale crater
Nature of deliverable
Scheduled delivery date
28th February 2019
Gwénaël Caravaca, Stéphane Le Mouélic, Nicolas Mangold
Table of content
The scope of this deliverable is to provide a comprehensive GIS project including georeferenced orbital (e.g. visible imagery, DEM, geomorphological maps) and ground-based (e.g. rover’s imagery) data of the Gale Crater, explored by MSL rover Curiosity since August 2012. In this work, we focus on a localized area of interest centred around the Kimberley outcrop (around 2700 m x 2800 m, traversed between sols 603 and 630) and including the Cooperstown and Pahrump Hills outcrops (from sols 431 to 960).
All data provided by this deliverable and included within this GIS project have been retrieved from publicly available and accessible repositories. These data are useful to the PlanMap effort to serve not only as basemaps for future enhanced mapping of the area, but also to reconstruct 3D geomodels of a specific area on Curiosity’s traverse, the Kimberley outcrop.
List of acronyms
|3D||3 Dimensions||MOLA||Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter|
|ASU||Arizona State University||MSL||Mars Science Laboratory|
|CNRS||Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique||NavCam||Navigation Camera|
|CRISM||Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars||NIR||Near Infra-Red|
|DEM||Digital Elevation Model||PDS||Planetary Data System|
|DOM||Digital Outcrop Model||PlanMap||Panetary Mapping|
|GIS||Geographic Information System||RGB||Red Green Blue|
|HazCam||Hazard avoidance Camera||RMI||Remote Micro-Imager|
|HiRISE||High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment||THEMIS||THermal Emission Imaging System|
|ISIS||Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers||URL||Uniform Resource Locator|
|JPL||Jet Propulstion Laboratory||USGS||United States Geological Survey|
|LPG||Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique||VNIR||Visible/Near Infra-Red|
|MAHLI||MArs Hand Lens Imager||VR||Virtual Reality|
|MastCam||Mast Camera||WP5||Work Package 5|
The deliverable 5.1, prepared by CNRS-LPG Nantes, regards the release of a comprehensive GIS project including orbital and in situ data of the Gale Crater (Mars) where the MSL rover Curiosity landed in August 2012. These products are useful to the PlanMap project effort in providing both basemaps and geological information needed for a highly resolved 3D mapping of this area.
This project includes orbital data in the form of DEM, visible, infrared and hyperspectral imagery, and geomorphological maps, but also ground data derived from Curiosity. These data were retrieved from various public repositories (e.g. PDS, JPL’s servers), georeferenced within the Mars 2000 spherical projection, and then merged into a GIS software.
All layers embedded within the GIS project (cf. Annex A) represent pre-processed and/or pre-mosaicked datasets (i.e. not in their raw format) as they are to be included into the 3D geomodels and VR environment currently developed as part of future deliverables by the WP5 team for VR mapping.
Localization and Area of interest
Since its landing in 2012 in the Gale Crater on Mars, the MSL rover Curiosity explored the diverse geologic formations of Aeolis Palus, the northern plain of the crater (Fig. 1). During its mission, the rover studied the diversity of rocks encountered at Gale, bringing new insights into the past environments of the planet, but also raising new scientific questions (e.g. Grotzinger et al., 2014; Le Deit et al., 2016; Stack et al., 2016).
Figure 1: View of Aeolis Palus and Aeolis Mons, Gale Crater, Mars, and the traverse of MSL rover Curiosity (white line). The red box highlights the working area considered by this deliverable, and including the Cooperstown, Kimberley and Pahrump Hills outcrops.
As part of the PlanMap effort, WP5 will focus on a specific area traversed by Curiosity between sols 603 and 630 (a sol corresponds to a Martian solar day during circa 24h39, with sol 0 being the day of MSL Yellowknife landing August 6th 2012) and centred around the Kimberley outcrop (Fig. 1). This specific outcrop has been selected for:
- its geological interest, in situ chemical analyses showing that its sedimentary succession displays an unexpected high amount of potassic content (e.g. Le Deit et al., 2016)
- mapping opportunities, because the series at Kimberley outcrops along a well-exposed section that has been described by Le Deit et al. (2016) and Stack et al. (2016), allowing validation of our future VR mapping against existing data.
- quality and quantity of available imagery from Curiosity to be used for DOM reconstruction.
This deliverable presents a set of multiscale data for the Kimberley outcrop and its vicinity as to allow further local to regional study. We therefore determined a working area encompassing Curiosity’s traverse between sols 431 and 960 and notably including the Cooperstown and Pahrump Hills outcrops, in addition to Kimberley, that corresponds to the ~2700 x 2800 m red box on Figure 1.
Softwares and formats used
Both Open Source and proprietary softwares were used to process and merge data provided by this deliverable.
While most orbital data came in pre-processed and/or pre-mosaicked form, some of the data might had been corrected to ensure best co-registration or visualization. Those corrections were achieved using ISIS v.3 software for mosaicking and co-registration (provided by USGS), or IDL/ENVI v.5.4 for colorization of HiRISE visible data (see further; from Harris Geospatial Solutions).
Merging, georeferencing and digitalization were achieved using ArcGIS suite (from ESRI), and more precisely ArcMap v.10.4.1.
Other works including raster and/or vector modification, enhancing or annotation have been performed using Photoshop CS6 (v.13.0.1) and Illustrator CS5 (v.15.0.0) softwares from Adobe.
Data provided with this deliverable use several different file formats after their type (e.g. raster vs vector data). Formats used for the data provided with this deliverable are listed in the Table 1.
Imagery, multi-band imagery, DEM
Portable Network Graphics
Imagery for publication
ESRI Shapefile + geodatabase
.shp + .dbf + .aux (and other auxiliary files)
Mapping products in vector format
ESRI Project File
GIS integrated project (readable in ArcMap)
Table 1: List of specific file formats used in this deliverable.
Most data merged into this GIS project consist of product acquired by orbital embarked devices. Pre-processed and/or pre-mosaicked data are available as raster tiles (GeoTIFF), projected within the IAU Mars 2000 spherical projection (Seidelmann et al., 2002). Albeit the geomorphological maps directly apply to the description of the ground and are refined using ground-based data, they are herein categorized as orbital data being drawn to represent geomorphological facies originally defined from orbital imagery.
The THermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) instrument is embarked on board the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft. It allows investigating the surface mineralogy and surface properties of the Martian ground using a multi-spectral thermal-infrared imager in 9 wavelengths centred from 6.8 to 14.9 µm with a resolution of 100m/pixel, and a visible/near-infrared imager in 5 wavelengths centred from 0.42 to 0.86 µm with a resolution of 18m/pixel (Christensen et al., 2004).
This deliverable provides an extract of the pre-processed thermal inertia infrared imagery of the Gale Crater (Fig. 2), available on the ASU’s THEMIS team website (http://themis.asu.edu/landingsites/mslsite_06). Thermal inertia is expressed in J m-2 K-1 s-1/2.
Figure 2: Thermal inertia map of the working area from the THEMIS instrument.
The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRIMS) instrument is embarked on board the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. Its primary objective is to map the surface crustal mineralogy and investigate the potential presence of aqueous activity (past by discriminating the presence of hydrated minerals (Murchie et al., 2007). Its multispectral imager is able to collect up to 72 wavelengths ranging from ultraviolet (362 nm) to mid-wave infrared (3920 nm). Within the spectrometer, light is split into VNIR and IR beams, allowing specific bands to be recorded (cf. Table 2).
This deliverable provides extracts of the pre-processed hyper-spectral imagery of the Gale Crater produced in preparation of MSL landing (Seelos et al., 2012 and references therein). Before any further interpretation, the user is invited to refer to Seelos et al. (2012) and the references therein to understand the signification and potential limits of these hyper-spectral images (e.g. treatment, resolution, threshold, etc.). It features five layers, corresponding to mosaics whose parameters are described in Table 2: IRA, VNA, FAL, MAF, FM2.
Reflectance at 1330 nm
Reflectance at 770 nm
Table2: List of pre-processed hyper-spectral imagery products from CRISM instrument (after Seelos et al., 2012)
The IRA layer is a single-channel image, displaying the IR reflectance at 1330 nm (Table 2, Fig. 3).
Figure 3: IRA map of the working area from the CRISM instrument, showing reflectance at 1330 nm.
The VNA layer is a single-channel image, displaying the VNIR reflectance at 770 nm (Table 2, Fig. 4).
Figure 4: VNA map of the working area from the CRISM instrument, showing reflectance at 770 nm.
The FAL layer is an RGB composite visible/IR image (Table 2, Fig. 5).
Figure 5: FAL IR coloured map of the working area from the CRISM instrument.
The MAF layer is an RBG composite image whose processing shows indices sensitive to iron- and magnesium-containing minerals of mafic affinity (Table 2). Presence of minerals like olivine or both low- and high-CA pyroxene can be observed from this layer (Fig. 6).
Figure 6: MAF map of the working area from the CRISM instrument. Red indicates olivine, materials with low-Ca pyroxene appear green and materials with high-Ca pyroxene appear blue.
The FM2 layer is an RGB composite image whose processing shows indicators of iron-containing minerals and their type (Table 2). Presence of mafics, crystalline ferric minerals or ferric iron-bearing dust can be observed from this layer (Fig. 7).
Figure 7: FM2 map of the working area from the CRISM instrument. Red/orange areas are dominated by ferric Fe-bearing dust or analogous materials, blue areas are dominated by mafics, green or yellow colours indicate the presence of crystalline ferric minerals (e.g. hematite).
The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument is embarked on board the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the most resolved imager to date orbiting Mars, its main scope is to capture and deliver ultra-high definition images of the Martian surface, with a resolution up to 25 cm/pixel (McEwen et al., 2007). Colour information can be retrieved from the Red, Blue-Green and NIR channels to produced full colour images of the red planet. Moreover, HiRISE is capable of taking stereo pairs use to reconstruct the surface topography (using photogrammetry), with a horizontal resolution of 1 m/pixel and a vertical accuracy usually around the tens of cm (McEwen et al., 2007).
This deliverable provides extracts of the pre-processed and pre-mosaicked HiRISE tiles for the Gale Crater (full version available on the USGS public repository).
Visible imagery data
This deliverable provides an extract of the HiRISE visible basemap (Calef III & Parker, 2016). This greyscale image (Fig. 8) displays the highest resolution available for this area (25 cm/pixel), allowing distinction of metric-scale geological features on the Martian surface. It is currently the most advanced imagery product available and serves as a base for geomorphological observations and interpretations (e.g. Grotzinger et al., 2014, see Geomorphological maps).
Figure 8: High-resolution (up to 25 cm/pixel) greyscale image of the working area from the HiRISE instrument
Figure 9 shows the same greyscale basemap, with an additional layer featuring an extract of the full colour (processed using IDL/ENVI) HiRISE image ESP_036128_1755 (Fig. 9; complete tile is available online at https://www.uahirise.org/ESP_036128_1755). This image shows the position of Curiosity during sol 597 while arriving at the Kimberley outcrop (white arrow on Fig. 10). This image also shows the rover’s track printed in the Martian dust (black arrow on Fig. 10), thus allowing validation of the position of MSL traverse within the GIS project once georeferenced by direct visual comparison of the georeferenced points recorded by MSL (see MSL traverse) against the real track left by the rover.
Figure 9: High-resolution (up to 25 cm/pixel) greyscale image of the working area from the HiRISE instrument with co-registered extract of the ESP_036128_1755 full colour tile
Figure 10: Detail of the ESP_036128_1755 full colour tile showing Curiosity at Kimberley on sol 597 (white arrow). Resolution of the image is high enough to observe the rover’s track in the Martian dust (black arrow).
Digital Elevation Model
This deliverable also provides an extract of the HiRISE DEM basemap (Parker & Calef III, 2016; full version available on the USGS public repository). This DEM shows variations in elevation in meters (Fig. 11). Accuracy in the southeasternmost part of the map is reduced due to the presence of dunes in this area, thus preventing a good reconstruction of the topography using classical photogrammetric methods.
Figure 11: Digital Elevation Model of the working area (with horizontal resolution of 1 m/px), obtained by photogrammetry from HiRISE imagery data.
The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) instrument is embarked on board the 1996 Mars Global Surveyor. This instrument was the first to provide information about the global altimetry and surface roughness of Mars, with a resolution up to 100 m/pixel (Smith et al., 2001). These legacy data, available in their latest 2003 revision on the PDS (http://pds-geosciences.wustl.edu/missions/mgs/megdr.html) are not resolved enough for the PlanMap effort (463 m/pixel in this area). Anyway, this deliverable provides an extract of the MOLA global altimetry cover (Fig. 12) as comparison and calibration reference for other altimetric data derived from indirect methods (e.g. HiRISE photogrammetric DEM).
Figure 12: Digital Elevation Model of the working area (with horizontal resolution of 100 m/px), obtained by laser altimetry from the MOLA instrument.
Geomorphological map of the Martian surface, and more specifically of the Gale Crater, allows to discriminate several types of geological features and/or (apparent) formations, based on observational criteria, such as roughness, brightness (albedo), presence of debris, dunes, etc. These observations lead to the characterization of “orbital facies” that can give insights about the origin and nature of the observed terrains (e.g. Grotzinger et al., 2014). These orbital facies have to be completed by in situ observations whenever it is possible, notably using ground-based data such as delivered by MSL rover Curiosity.
This deliverable provides with two levels of geomorphological mapping of the Gale Crater along the Curiosity’s traverse to serve as basemaps for future VR mapping.
A regional (sub-basin)-scale geomorphological map of the Aeolis Palus and foothills of Aeolis Mons (Mt. Sharp) has been constructed by Grotzinger et al. (2014) largely based on HiRISE imagery (Fig. 13). It is used to identifies and discriminates several various types of terrain encountered by Curiosity during its ongoing mission.
This map features 7 types of orbital facies whose specific parameters are detailed by Grotzinger et al. (2014).
This deliverable provides an extract of this geomorphological map (Fig. 13), drawn after data available in the literature (a version of the Figure 15 without the HiRISE basemap imagery is available in Annex B, Figure B1).
Figure 13: Regional geomorphological map (after Grotzinger et al., 2014) of the working area, displaying 7 different “orbital facies”, and the Bradbury/Murray contact. Basemap is high-resolution HiRISE imagery.
Localized outcrop maps
Aside from the regional-scale map from Grotzinger et al. (2014), Stack et al. (2016) proposed several detail geomorphological maps at the outcrop scale within the area studied as part of this work (Fig. 14). More specifically, two outcrops have been selected by these authors to be mapped at a finer scale: Cooperstown and Kimberley (a version of the Figure 14 without the HiRISE basemap imagery is available in Annex B, Figure B2).
On these geomorphological maps, 11 new additional orbital facies have been determined, bringing refinement to the 7 previously proposed by Grotzinger et al. (2014). The new localized maps of Cooperstown (Fig. 15) and Kimberley (Fig. 16) show more lateral variations in their facies pattern than the original regional map and will serve as a good reference for future localized VR mapping (a version of the Figures 15 and 16 without the HiRISE basemap imagery is available in Annex B, Figures B3 and B4, respectively). Detailed description of the parameters used to define these 11 facies are available in Stack et al. (2016).
Figure 14: Position of the localized geomorphological maps (after Stack et al., 2016) on the working area. On the top right corner is the Cooperstown map (Fig. 17) and near the centre of the image is the Kimberley map (Fig. 18). Basemap is high-resolution HiRISE imagery.
Figure 15: Localized geomorphological map (after Stack et al., 2016) of the Cooperstown outcrop, displaying 11 different “orbital facies”. Basemap is high-resolution HiRISE imagery.
Figure 16: Localized geomorphological map (after Stack et al., 2016) of the Kimberley outcrop, displaying 11 different “orbital facies”. Basemap is high-resolution HiRISE imagery.
Ground-based data are critical for geological mapping in general, and it is also true in Planetary Geology. However, unlike terrestrial mapping, reaching for other planets’ surface data is difficult, so only few of these ground-based data are available, for specific and restricted area.
In the Gale Crater, MSL rover Curiosity embarks a suite of instruments allowing a plethora of geological experiments, from highly resolved imaging to in situ geochemical experiments.
As far as the geological mapping of the Gale Crater is concerned, we focus hereafter on the different imagers on board Curiosity and their products, as they are to be used to reconstruct photogrammetric high-resolution DOM of the Kimberley outcrop.
Since its landing in August 2012 (Yellowknife landing in Fig. 1), Curiosity has roved about 20 km across Aeolis Palus and the foothills of the Mount Sharp (Figs. 1 and 17). As part of its day-to-day operations, the rover is capable of self-georeferencing, recording its position relative to its landing site. Those coordinates are stored and transmitted to the MSL team back on Earth and used to track the rover and its way from outcrop to outcrop (Fig. 17).
This deliverable provides these position data retrieved from the PDS in the form of a layer with each point representing the position of the rover for a given time (Fig. 17). Each point contains information about the sol, internal clock time, drive sequence and planetocentric coordinates as well, that are issued from the “localized_interp_demv2.csv” file, available on the PDS, and provided with this deliverable.
Figure 17: Traverse of Curiosity across the working area, from sol 431 (top right corner) to sol 970 (bottom left corner). Basemap is high-resolution HiRISE imagery.
MSL imagery data
As mentioned above, as part of future work of the WP5 team to produce 3D geomodels for the Kimberley outcrop, imagery products from MSL are of paramount importance. To that extent, we seek to use data produced by 5 different instruments on board Curiosity (Table 3): NavCam, HazCam, MastCam, MAHLI and RMI. These instruments are responsible for different tasks, from analysing the Martian ground to determine the best way for the rover to follow (NavCam, HazCam) to making scientific observations (MastCam, MAHLI, RMI). They therefore possess different imaging parameters (e.g. resolution, focal field, etc.) that are summarized in Table 3 (after Malin et al., 2010; Maurice et al., 2012; Maki et al., 2012; Bell et al., 2013; Le Mouélic et al., 2015; and references therein), and that result in different image products of a given object on the ground (Fig. 18).
Field of view
1024 x 1024 px
45° x 45°
Maki et al., 2012
Hazard avoidance Cameras
1024 x 1024 px
124° x 124°
Maki et al., 2012
Mast Camera (left)
MastCam left (M-34)
1600 x 1200 px
18.4° x 15°
Malin et al., 2010; Bell et al., 2013
|Mast Camera (right)|
MastCam right (M-100)
1600 x 1200 px
6.3° x 5.1°
Malin et al., 2010; Bell et al., 2013
MArs Hand Lens Imager
1600 x 1200 px
26.8° x 20.1° to 31.1° x 23.3°
Edgett et al., 2015
1024 x 1024 px
1.15° x 1.15°
Maurice et al., 2012; Le Mouélic et al., 2015
Table 3: List of technical parameters of the different imagers on board Curiosity.
Figure 18: Composite image (after Le Mouélic et al., 2015) showing the variations in resolution, colorization and field of view of the different NavCam, HazCam, MastCam (M-34 and M-100), RMI and MAHLI imagers on board Curiosity for a given target around sol 170.
In order to provide a direct access to all ground-based MSL imagery data needed as part of current and future work of WP5, the GIS project provided by this deliverable includes two hyperlink-ready layers allowing fast retrieval of all mentioned data: layers “MSL_JPL_link_Cooperstown_Pahrump” and “MSL_AN_PDS_link_Cooperstown_Pahrump” (Figs. 19 and 20; respectively). These two layers allows fast navigation towards two public and perennial data repositories. “MSL_JPL[…]” embedded URL link points towards the public JPL server hosting raw images sent by MSL (in .jpg format, http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/raw/; Fig. 19). This server is updated daily with the latest data from Gale Crater, but images are degraded (due to jpg compression) and does not include technical information (such as georeferencing).
Figure 19: Screen capture of the “Hyperlink” feature UI in ArcMap v.10.4.1 (left) used to access JPL’s servers hosting the MSL raw imagery archive (right) for a selected sol (here for sol 603 and the Kimberley outcrop).
“MSL_AN_PDS[…]” embedded URL link points toward the Analyst’s Notebook website, hosted by Washington University (https://an.rsl.wustl.edu/msl/mslbrowser/an3.aspx; Fig. 20). This website serves as a graphic UI portal to gather and retrieve information and data available on the public NASA PDS archive node. On the PDS, imagery data is available in native .img format associated to a .lbl file including all technical information and georeferencing.
Figure 20: Screen capture of the “Hyperlink” feature UI in ArcMap v.10.4.1 (left) used to access the Analyst’s Notebook website (PDS’ graphic UI portal; right) for a selected sol (here for sol 603 and the Kimberley outcrop).
WP5 team thank Thomas C. Stein, PDS Geosciences Node Operation Manager, for providing us with the URL formula allowing fast navigation towards a specific sol on the Analyst’s Notebook website that is used within this GIS.
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Annex A: List of source data and layers of the provided GIS project
Table A1 lists all files provided by this deliverable and their address relative to the “Home” folder of the GIS project. The table also stipulates which layer (.lyr file) they are called under to load them with their specific and correct legends (e.g. colours for maps, or coloured scale for stretched graphics).
Associated layer file (.lyr)
Data type (raster/vector)
File (relative to "Home" folder in ArcMap)
|MSL Curiosity traverse and data|
Bradburry Murray Contact
Maps/Grotzinger 2014 general map/Bradburry Murray Contact.shp
Maps/Grotzinger 2014 general map/Grotzinger_orbital_facies_map.shp
Maps/Stack 2016 localizaed maps/Stack_refined_orbital_facies_maps.shp
HiRISE/HiRISE Gale Cooperstown Pahrump/MSL_Gale_Orthophoto_Mosaic_25cm_v3_Cooperstown_Pahrump.tif
HiRISE/HiRISE Gale DEM Ortho/MSL_Gale_DEM_Mosaic_1m_v3_Cooperstown_Pahrump.tif
Table A1: List of files provided with this deliverable and embedded into the GIS project, with the layers they are associated with.
Annex B: Geomorphological maps
Figures B1 to B4 represent the same geomorphological maps as shown by figures 13 to 16, except that they are here presented without the HiRISE imagery basemap, and only shows the shapefile layer data.