written by Heike Hoenig
Frozen and dusty. That is Mars. Not a very hospitable place one would expect, but Mars’ surface shows the opposite in its past: Furrows and grooves in the landscape surprisingly point to a history of flowing rivers, standing lakes and possibly even planetary-scale oceans. On Earth, water means life – so was there life on Mars? Answering such questions is a long way ahead, but the first tool to look for answers is data: Researchers all over the world spend their time exploring the red planet, analysing satellite imagery, diving in huge data amounts, exploring meticulously its topography. The group of researchers working with Dr. Angelo Pio Rossi, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science at Jacobs University Bremen, recently developed a Web GIS called PlanetServer which enables online visualization and analysis of Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer (CRISM) hyperspectral data from Mars. Such research helps understanding the processes which once have shaped the red planet, and maybe even continue shaping it.