Skip to content

ICC2017 – The planetary program

June 27, 2017

Report of the ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography meeting at ICC2017 Washington
Chair: H. Hargitai

The meeting had 12+1 participants. The sessions included 7 planetary talks (plus two in the pre-conference workshop) and 4 posters.
We discussed the commission projects, including the children’s maps, EPO apps and projects, nomenclature issues and databases.
It was stated that the basic goal of the commission is not to resolve science questions but to facilitate visibility of planetary datasets for the terrestrial cartographers and produce EPO materials for students.
M. Pitura volunteered to further develop the commission’s WordPress website.
We agreed that the commission website will feature a “toolbox” for planetary EPO that will include the tools we presented during the meeting, including the desciption of enhanced ePub, game/city engine etc.
A. Nass talked about the need for a publication that helps mappers in planetary feature identification in images.
A. Jasper talked about the problems of nested placenames, and designation of subsurface features identified on radar data.
For the childrens maps, we talked about the need of better targeting age groups and defining the exact ways the map wants to engage readers and how the map could relate to the reader’s experience.
We agreed that a planetary map reading test will be made to find the best ways to depict an extraterrestrial surface that is understood by the readers. Placenames are important on a planetary map because they may be the only parts of the map that is relatable, i.e. has some familiarity to the map reader.
In future publications we will experiment with maps designed in familiar scales, i.e. city map, country map, continent map scales – increasing relatability.
We have discussed the possibilities of coordinated activities between our commission and the IAU Commission on Cartographic Coordinates & Rotational Elements.
We have discusses the possibility of new commission projects:
Open Planetary, an open source user interface to interact with Mars map, the “Martian open street map”
– Automated extraction of areas of interest of research papers
– enhanced ePub applications
– real life location based applications designed for Mars (etc) maps for smartphones
– creative identification of any point on a planet’s surface, that can be used by virtual explorers to identify their current location, and address or “three words”
– development of detailed astronomy club educational activities based on planetary cartographic products or the production of planetary maps
– new approaches to map styles, e.g. mapbox
– promote the inclusion of maps in astronomy apps like “Planets”
– Promote the inclusion of planetary maps in Atlases, with a good example the Swiss World Atlas
– verbal comparative description of an area to known units on earth (this place on Mars is 10 Spains)
– triggered by a talk by J. Reyes, we could develop a Mars Atlas based on the design of the School atlases of M. Kogutowicz.

There is no decision on next year’s meeting but it could be in Central Europe.
We have agreed that in Tokyo, a new chair has to be appointed.

Comments, ideas, projects from You? Send it to hhargitai @

Henrik Hargitai


Thursday, July 6, 2017
Location: Harding

12:30 PM – 1:20 PM

Power Point Presentation

2:50 PM – 3:50 PM
TECHNICAL SESSIONS – 6600s Planetary Cartography
Location: Harding
4:10 PM – 5:30 PM
TECHNICAL SESSIONS – 6700s Planetary Cartography

Location: Harding


3rd Planetary Data Workshop

May 10, 2017

3rd Planetary Data Workshop


The Planetary Geologic Mappers Annual Meeting

June 12–15, 2017

Flagstaff, Arizona

Planetary Cartography Workshop

February 24, 2017

ICC2017 — July 1, Washington, D.C.
Joint workshop to share the results of latest and most representative research.
Deadline for the submission of full papers: March 30.

Planetary Maps from Archie’s Press: The Elements of Space

December 28, 2016
Archie’s Press publishes minimalist “mental” maps that are built from circles. “The circle, our Universe’s softest shape, clearly conveys size and connections.” – Archie says. He created a “Map from the Mind” for dozens of cities, simplifying structures and districts in the simplest terms. The same way Harry Beck’s London Tube Map simplified the representation of the real world to lines and curves, Archie Archambault expands this idea to cities, states, – and celestial bodies. He finds the best known features and names and shows them in a way easy to keep in your mind. This is cartography at its best.
His outer space series, also made along the same geometric principles, includes the maps of Jupiter, Mars, the Moon, Saturn, the Sun, The Solar System and the Galaxy. There is no unnecessry element on the maps: even annotations serve a cartographic purpose.

Read more…

New Pluto/Charon map for children

December 7, 2016

The perfect gift for your young scientist?
The new children’s map of PLUTO and CHARON.
The map will premiere on December 13 at the AGU meeting in San Francisco and will be available for download from the next day.
In the USA, we ship it to your home before the holidays.
Downloads of the full resolution map will be free before the holidays.
Other maps in the series:

Cartographic Visions of Mars

November 2, 2016

How do you chose your summer travel destination? Checking websites, asking friends? And how do you navigate there? Using road signs? Online maps on your smartphone? Offline maps on smartphone? Paper maps? GSP turned on? Trusting your instincts?

OK now how would you do this on Mars if you were a Mars Astronaut? The mission: explore an area 100 km in radius (the size of Maryland or Belgium). What’s worth studying? How do you get there? What if you lose power? What landmarks will you have? With no roads, no vegetation, but lots of craters, rocks and dust, you will need a good map designed for planning and navigating – a map that can save your life.

“Where the orbital maps indicated a smooth plain, there was instead a vast crater field and collections of truck-sized boulders.” (On the Apollo 11 landing)

And you want to avoid a situation like that, just seconds before landing, as it happened during the Apollo 11 mission.

apollo astronaut.jpg

Apollo astronauts had a “cuff checklist” booklet  (see image above).

Apollo 13 traverse map from cuff checklist. No battery, GPS or wifi were needed to operate it. 

On Mars, it will probably be different.

We asked students, GIS professionals and citizen scientists to design a map, or map elements that could be useful for the astronauts who will use them in… well, at least 25 years from now.

Here we show you a selection of the works and ideas we received in our Exploration Zone competition:

Hiking on Mars


Map (c) Mateusz Pitura

Mateusz Pitura showed Mars in golden ochre colors. The Hebrus Valles habitat is next to the rampart flow front of a crater ejecta. The author evaluated all routes according to their difficulties. It is a hiking map on Mars.

  • Easy – < 15 km long. No special preparations required. Possibility of surface dust and small craters. Slopes under 10 degrees.
  • Medium – 15 -30 km. Rocks, rock rubble, small craters, surface dust, troughs and slope above 10 degrees.
  • Hard – >30 km. Hazards inlcude steep slopes, >30 cm rocks which could be an obstacle for rovers, big rock formations, craters, surface dust, troughs, ice and depressions.

The Visor Map

Illustration (c) Jonathan Ocon

Jonathan Ocon mapped Acheron Fossae. Usually we use some hand-held device to view maps, but on Mars, you are already within a device, the space suit. So instead of a paper checklist fixed on your arm, as they did on the Moon, we could use augmented and virtual reality technology and project geospatial information onto the visor used as a screen. In this view, it displays all data about nearby potential targets, date, time, and overview map.

The Map of a New Home


Map (c) Eian Ray

This map by Eian Ray shows Eastern Valles Marineris. The map contains contour lines, points of interests and distances from the hab that could be the most important data to know when you leave the hab and want to return in time. The map also contains fictional names:  ” Not only will this encourage mental and emotional continuity by exposing the mission participants to names of places they are already familiar with, but it will help foster a sense of place as the astronauts begin to develop a geospatial awareness of their new Martian home. … It softens the difficulties faced by those who’ve settled in a new land, while drawing new explorers to an unfamiliar land with visions of familiar sights and sounds, real or imagined” – Ray says. 

Showing directions and places of other landing sites is a unique feature of this map. ” In the unfamiliar environment of the Martian landscape, I wanted to create a sense of place for the explorers. – Ray explains –  On Mars there will be no place, culture, people, food, sights or smells that can provide this context. The life-support and equipment that accompany them will be intimately familiar to the explorers, but even these objects won’t fill many of the social, emotional, and geospatial needs firmly planted in our psyches through an Earthly evolutionary process. There are no sources of security, no places of refuge, and no ability to let one’s guard down. … To mitigate feelings of isolation and potential psychological distress I decided it was important to illustrate the bearings and distance from the landing site to all human activity on the planet. This is intended to convey to the astronauts that they are a part of something larger, something on-going, something that is connected and provides continuity to the rest of humanity despite
being 225 to 400 million kilometers from Earth. Similar to maritime maps of the New World during the 16
th century that included Europe and northwest Africa as reference points, this map includes significant historical places to provide the same geospatial context.”

Less is more

Map (c) Camillo Battistioli

Camillo Battistioli mapped Acheron Fossae. These maps don’t want to achieve photorealistic representation, instead, it shows the surface in a simplified way: contour lines become elevation slices, shades of brows show height and a grid helps our sense of distance.  The pathways are clear and simple, and a perspective view helps familiarize with the target area at a single glance. This happens when cartography, science and art meets.

All-in-one App for Mars

Illustrations (c) JJ Moran

Map data are just one of the many things Astronauts should know here and now. 3D spatial data, live streams of weather conditions – dust storms, approaching dust devils, potential or existing fog or CO2 frost -, health data can hugely affect the mission. It is also good to see what other astronauts – and robots – are doing. Astronauts likely won’t need to download apps from an appstore: they will have all in one. JJ Moran‘s app made with the Unity game engine shows a preview of what this app will look like. “After conceptualizing several possibilities it was decided that from an astronaut’s perspective, it would be best if the map product could be integrated with an existing GUI. This GUI could hypothetically be a single interface the astronauts could use for communications, mission updates, and map data.” – JJ says.

There Are No Weekends on Mars

November 2, 2016