The Global Geomorphic Map of Titan

Rosaly Lopes and her colleagues have completed the map of the major geomorphic units on Titan at 1:20 million scale. They identified and mapped six geomorphic units: plains, dunes, hummocky terrain, lakes, labyrinth terrain and craters and also identifed their stratigraphic relations.




Planetary Cartography at the EGU2020

We would like to draw your attention to the session on Planetary Cartography, Mapping and GIS (PS6.3 Co-organized by ESSI4/G13) at the EGU in Vienna (3-8 May 2020).

This session welcomes presentations covering a wide range of topics on planetary maps, cartography as well as planetary data management and visualization.

Specifically, we invite contributions in the fields of data archiving, dissemination, structuring, analyzing, filtering, visualizing, data collaboration, and map compilation.

We welcome in particular contributions from the Earth Mapping and Data Sciences for discussions and exchange of experience.

Abstract Deadline is 15 January, 2020 (13:00 CET).

Session details:


Information on financial support (for students, early career, and established scientists):

Note, that those seeking financial support must submit their abstract by 1 December 2019 to be eligible.

We are looking forward to your contribution and to seeing you in Vienna next year,

The Conveners

(Andrea Nass, Angelo Pio Rossi, Alessandro Frigeri, Stephan van Gasselt, and Valentina Galluzzi)

Mapping for Space Mining?

The “First Conference of Future and Emerging Mining”


One of the most important drives for geologic mapping have come from the mining industry. This aspect has not been relevant for other planets yet, but the new era of geologic mapping is on the horizon. The “1st conference of Future and Emerging Mining” will be held just before Christmas, next to Las Vegas, USA, perhaps signalling the potentials and risks of the future space mining business.

Professor Kefei Zhang (SPACE Research Centre of RMIT, Australia) told us that a wide range of disciplines are expected to be present, including mining, geodesy / geo-sciences, planetary science, space science, mineral resources, robotics, Earth observation systems and geomatics.

The conference is organized by the China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT) that is “ranked the best mining university” in the People’s Republic of China (Wikipedia). The other organizing institute is the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). The event is also sponsored by the International Society for Mine Surveying, the RMIT University from Australia and the University of Nevada.


China is about to establish a research center for space mining 

Dr Zhang told us that it is planned that “a new research institute is going to be formally established in CUMT” related to space and future mining using emerging technologies. Starting a new journal on this topic is also under way.

The CUMT space mining institute in PR China has up to 5 postdoctoral researcher positions open now. Full PhD scholarships are also available from the Chinese Ministry of Education that cover both tuition fee and living expenses.

For potential future opportunities, including post-doctoral fellows, PhD scholarships, academic collaboration, grants etc. please feel free to contact the CUMT via  email:, or

The conference website is at:


Related article about chinese space mining: China’s Get-Rich Space Program

AutoCarto 2020 – Call for Abstracts

The Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS) is pleased to announce AutoCarto 2020, to be held May 20–22 on the Esri campus in Redlands, California. Workshops will take place on May 19.

The call for extended abstracts and preconference workshop proposals is now open. We hope you will consider holding a workshop for your ICA commission in conjunction with AutoCarto 2020. Please see for details.

Also, please note that student assistantships, including a $750 stipend, are available on a competitive basis. Please see for details. Additionally, the ICA offers scholarships for young scholars to participate in commission workshops. Please see details at

3D Printed Small Bodies on Your Desk

A new set of small and mid sized planetary body shape models have been published  in a format that can be used directly in 3D printers. The files are in .obj format. The catalog contains 21 asteroids, 5 comets and 21 planetary satellites. The latter mostly includes irregular bodies, but the famous Mimas is also included. If you just want to play with the models, is a good online tool for viewing and rotating the shape models. The file size (and resolution) of the shape models vary from few 100s kbytes to more than 100 Mbytes.

For professional planetary cartographers and geologists the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory developed a new mapping tool where irregular bodies can be easily mapped.

Image: Shape model of Bennu is being printed at the EPSC-DPS meeting in Geneva

20190917_162308A variety of shapes and sizes

20190917_163152Churyumov-Gerasimenko in your hand

The First Global Geologic Map of Europa

The global geologic map of Europa will provide the first insight into the global stratigraphy and distribution of geologic units of the icy moon of Jupiter. The current mappig effort serves both the astrogeologic community, NASA’s Europa Clipper mission planning (launch planned in 2023), and also may be useful for ESA’s JUICE mission (launch planned in 2022) that will have overlapping missions.

Europa has a global ocean underneath the ice crust. The map helps identify sites where the subsurface materials interact with the surface (or space) providing windows into the potentially habitable interior of the planet.

The results show that the most recent landforms are chaos regions that are the second most widespread on the moon after the ridged plains. As the lead author, E. J. Leonard presented at the EPSC-DPS conference, microchaoses do not concentrate around larger chaos areas as expected, but instead they occur at the intersections of linear forms, breaking up ridges, bands and cycloids.

Erin Leonard (JPL) started mapping in January 2017. “The varying resolution and imaging geometry (e.g., lighting) make creating a consistent global map a challenge because terrain can have a different appearance depending on these factors”, Leonard explains.

In addition to the 1:15M global map, where only units larger than 15 km are identified, the author has started a second, regional series as her postdoctoral project. The 1:500k regional maps would show those regions that were imaged at the highest resolution (200 m/pixel). Conamara Chaos and Moytura Regio are the first two in the regional series. “We chose these locations to start with because they contain a variety of units at the global scale”, Leonard says.

The long-awaited map of Europa is under final review now and is expected to be published soon at USGS.


Microsoft Word - MappersMeetingAbs2019_v2.docx
Global geologic map of Europa and unit descriptions (Leonard et al. 2019)

LPI created new maps of the Lunar South Pole to help human mission planning

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) has a new online resource available for the Moon’s south pole ( Given NASA’s recent direction to implement Space Policy Directive-1 landing astronauts at the south pole by 2024, the LPI has compiled a series of maps, images, and illustrations designed to provide context and reference for those interested in exploring this area.

The highlight of the new online atlas is a set of 14 topographic maps derived from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) data. Dr. Julie D. Stopar, USRA staff scientist and director of the Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF) at the LPI, utilized these data to generate a series of south pole maps that can be used to visualize the terrain near the south pole.

The maps include topographic maps, illumination maps and slope maps of the Moon’s South Polar Ridge with special attention to the permanently shadowed regions.

A movie shows one month of Polar Illumination at the South Pole


Where would you build your Moon Base?

(via LPI)

Geologic units of Ultima Thule mapped

The geologic units of Ultima Thule were presented at the NASA press conference this week. Kirby Runyon, a New Horizons science team member from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland differentiated hills, troughs, impact or sublimation craters or pits, streaks and hills,  and albedo features on the contact binary asteroid. The team named the largest depression “Maryland” crater.


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The first map of asteroid Bennu published

Synced with the start of LPSC, DellaGiustina et al. in Nature published the first photomosaic map of the asteroid Bennu, using images from NASA’s NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The mosaic can also be accessed via the Osiris-Rex website. Challenges included the diamond shape of the asteroid and variable illumination conditions on the available images. Resolution is 1.6-1.8 m/pixel.



Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona. Equirectangular projection.

The Summer Triangle is now on the Moon

New place names have been approved within the lunar crater von Kármán where the Chinese Chang’e-4 probe landed .
Kármán, who was a Hungarian-American aerospace engineer, has craters named on both the Moon and Mars. The crater is a 180-km diameter central peak crater parly flooded by lava.
The choice of this landing site is symbolic: Qian Xuesen (钱学森, Tsien Hsue-shen), whose name is associated with China’s Space Program, was a student of Kármán when he studied and worked in the USA. He was deported from the USA in 1955 and after returning to China he participated in the initiation of the Chinese missile program, in Chinese atomic and hydrogen bomb tests and his reseach was used as a basis for the Long March rocket.
Now, as the Chinese Chang’e-4 probe landed in this crater, IAU officially approved Chinese-origin names for five sites. The names are based on the folk tale “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”.  While European nations named planetary features after ancient Greco-Roman mythology, Chinese-given names stem from ancient Chinese folktales. Both European and Chinese stories originate from the about 2600-2700 years ago and both are also associated with the names of celestial objects. These are the roots of celestial stories, in both cultures.

The names are:

Landing site – Statio Tianhe:  Tianhe is the ancient Chinese name for the Milky Way.

Three simple craters form a triangle around the landing site. They are named after characters in the tale that also formed an ancient Chinese constellation, the same three stars as the western culture’s “Summer Triangle”. The celestial shape is reflected in the lunar “triangle” of craters.

New names in Von Kármán crater. Figure from the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program website.

Zhinyu 织女 (the Chinese name corresponds to the star Vega)
Hegu 河鼓 (Chinese constellation in Aquila: Altair 河鼓二 and two adjacent stars)
Tianjin 津 (Corresponds to a Chinese constellation at the tail of Cygnus where less stars are visible. Taking the analog of the Milky Way as a river, this is a shallow part of the Milky Way, near Deneb 天津四)

The name “Mons Tai” 泰山 is assigned to the central peak of the crater Von Kármán. It is named after a mountain in Shandong, China, which is considered one of the “Five Sacred Mountains in China”.  There was a poem written by Du Fu 杜甫 (also commemorated on Mercury) about this mountain, originally composed of lines of 5 Chinese characters:

A View of Taishan

  What shall I say of the Great Peak? —
  The ancient dukedoms are everywhere green,
  Inspired and stirred by the breath of creation,
  With the Twin Forces balancing day and night
  …I bare my breast toward opening clouds,
  I strain my sight after birds flying home.
  When shall I reach the top and hold
  All mountains in a single glance?

Mons Tai is the second central peak in the Solar System to be named, the first being Aeolis Mons on Mars, at the Curisity working area. This name, “Aeolis Mons”, is almost never used by American scientists who call it Mount Sharp named after R.P. Sharp, an American planetary geomorphologist.

The naming is in accordance with the new (2017) IAU WGPSN rule according to which groups of smaller features within a larger named feature shall be named so that the names bear a mnemonic relationship to the given name of the larger feature.

As per IAU rules, only the Roman-character names are considered official. There is a growing number of names of Chinese origin in the IAU nomenclature, however, these non-roman forms are not even noted in the Planetary Gazetteer.
We are grateful for Jingming for the contribution to this article.