Skip to content

Gale Crater, Mars

Creation quality: 5.0/5 (2 votes)
Evaluation of members on the printability, utility, level of detail, etc.


3D model description

This is a model of Gale Crater, where the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity is roving around and blasting holes in the landscape.

It's 1:1925000 scale. The Curiosity Rover would be about two microns long, or about the length of one E. coli cell.

There is already a model of Gale Crater on Thingiverse (see thing:28190 by neurothing, and its derived thing:28619 by Doomcow), but I suspect the data they used to create the heightmap is not simple elevation data. Also, the way they did the mesh simplification resulted in a model without a flat bottom.

I loved their idea, but I decided to start over.

I wanted to be sure I was capturing the actual topography of the crater rather than some other optical property, and so I used the survey data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) Topography experiment aboard the Mars Global Surveyor. The data is available here :

I then squelched the grayscale image to range from 0-200, and used Vincent Sanders' png23d tool to create an STL file :

I then used MeshLab to apply a quadratic edge collapse decimation, reducing the face count from 779300 to 10000 (preserving mesh boundaries and topography).

This should be easier to print and more accurate.

I've printed two versions so far, both with Cura :

The print shown in the photos is actually a "low" quality print. The "normal" quality print came out even better.

-- UPDATE --

I printed a copy of this model on our lab's Ultimaker, and gave it to Dawn Sumner. She is a co-investigator for the MSL camera team led by Malin Space Science Systems, one of the Long Term Planners (LTPs) for the mission. She's also co-chair of the mapping group. Dawn was on the Landing Site Working Group, and helped choose Gale Crater as the landing site for the Curiosity Rover.

If figured it was only fair that she get my first print, especially since she's also at UC Davis.

Here's her post on Twitter about the print :

3D printer file information

  • Design number: 62246
  • 3D design format: STL Folder details Close
    • gale_crater_quadratinc_decimation.stl

    Learn more about the formats

  • Publication date: 2019-06-28 at 11:34


CC BY - Attribution


Issue with this design? Report a problem.

Collection associated with this 3D model

Best sellers of the category Education

Add a comment

Would you like to support Cults?

You like Cults and you want to help us continue the adventure independently? Please note that we are a small team of 3 people, therefore it is very simple to support us to maintain the activity and create future developments. Here are 4 solutions accessible to all:

  • ADVERTISING: Disable your banner blocker (AdBlock, …) and click on our banner ads.

  • AFFILIATION: Make your purchases online by clicking on our affiliate links here Amazon.

  • DONATE: If you want, you can make a donation via Ko-Fi 💜.

  • WORD OF MOUTH: Invite your friends to come, discover the platform and the magnificent 3D files shared by the community!