TMIS.morph - Areomorphological Analysis of Data from HRSC on Mars Express

TMIS.morph, a project in the sequence of TMIS (Topographic Mars Information System) projects, was the Austrian contribution to the international collaboration of “HRSC (High Resolution Stereo Camera) on MEX”, lead by Professor Gerhard Neukum (FU Berlin). The TMIS projects, beside providing a solid data management background of the huge datasets of the HRSC imagery and the derivative digital terrain models (DTMs) for the scientific research team, aimed at unconventional visualization, evaluation and automated extraction of selected Martian topographic features.

Short Description

One of the most exciting targets in space research nowadays is the planet Mars. Its environmental conditions, morphology (in case of Mars this science is called areomorphology – derived from the Greek word Ares – instead of its terrestrial counterpart geomorphology) and its evolution history are very fascinating and the research almost daily brings new results and new concepts.

The preparation, launch and operation of the probe Mars Express (MEX), a mission of the European Space Agency, is a real success story, since it has exceeded all expected time frames.

From HRSC images DTMs are created routinely at resolutions up to 50 m x 50 m per pixel. This resolution allows an automated recognition of the talus areas on Mars. Due to the difference in the surface evolution of Mars compared to Earth, the dominance of eolian and mass-wasting processes over fluvial erosion, the talus-like features are more frequent on Mars. The mapping of talus properties is therefore an interesting research goal.

Our contribution to the international collaboration intends to automatically recognize those pixels that most probably belong to the talus category. The developed method (first tested on Earth employing LiDAR topographic data) has been applied to the well- known meandering valleys of Nanedi Valles and the spectacular area of West Candor Chasma, a northern extension of the famous Martian topographic mega-structure of Valles Marineris.

The results show a good correlation to the visually recognizable talus features, and it facilitates a further analysis of these important surface elements.

Project Partners


Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (I.P.F.) - Prof. Josef Jansa


  • Freie Universität Berlin - Principal Investigator Prof. Gerhard Neukum
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR), Data Processing Group Berlin-Adlershof

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology - Institute of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (I.P.F.)
Prof. Josef Jansa
Gusshausstraße 27-29/122
A-1040 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801 12201