MExLab Summer School “Planetary Cartography and Image Processing”

The Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography (MIIGAIK) Extraterrestrial Laboratory (MExLab) invites You to attend its

Third MExLab Summer School


June, 28-30, 2016, MExLab, auditorium № 155


(Note that all lectures will be in Russian)

Continue reading “MExLab Summer School “Planetary Cartography and Image Processing””


Blue Moon 2015: The new LOLA topographic map of the Moon

It may be the signature color for the next generation of planetary topographic maps.
In addition to standard geologic maps, USGS also produces outreach maps of planets and moons. The last in this series is the Image Mosaic and Topographic map of the Moon, released in April 2015. Its press release reached 3.3 million viewers, and it has printed 5000 copies so far for distribution.


Trent Hare with the SIM3316 map at LPSC 2016

Lunar Colors

Continue reading “Blue Moon 2015: The new LOLA topographic map of the Moon”

USGS Map of the Reull Vallis Region, Mars


Here is another piece of art from USGS. Psychedelic in its layout, it is faithful to the USGS tradition of producing accurate and impressive maps. Any magazine designer of the 1970s would have envied this layout, resulted from the orginal shapes of image data available. Reull Vallis, East of Hellas Basin, have many untold stories, and this map helps in reconstructing the past events as well as pleasing the eye of the investigator.

Newsletter 2


ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography



EGU2016 – Vienna, Austria, 17–22 April 2016

New missions and techniques for planetary exploration

Training: Photogrammetric Processing of Planetary Stereo Imagery using ISIS and SOCET SET®

July 25-27, 2016, Flagstaff? AZ.



V. Galluzzi reported on the merging of 3 quadrangles of the new geological map of Mercury produced in preparation of the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo mission, from MESSENGER data, in Italy. The map will be published later in the Journal of Maps.


The completion of the first global map of Mercury was reported. The map will be part of the USGS geological map series.


C. Runyon displayed tactile maps of planets and the Moon.


Quadrangles from the ongoing Ceres geological mapping were shown. This is a project similar in scale to the Vesta mapping earlier. Lessons learned from Vesta mapping can be read here:


The New Horizon Team’s Sputnik Planum geological map was presented by O. White:


A new, color-coded shaded relief map of Mercury was presented by KJ Becker. The map will be released later this May.


S. Robbins reported on the current state of the global crater catalog of the Moon that will include all craters larger than 1 km.


T. Öhman of the Arctic Planetary Science Institute in Finland reported on the geomorphologic sketch mapping of the fresh lunar crater Eimmart A.


J. Liu and colleagues from China presented information about their project to produce a 30-quadrangle geological map of the Moon at 1:2.5M scale. They also proposed a revision of the lunar timescale.


K Debniak and O Kromuszczynska presented their geomorphological map focusing on landslide deposits of Ius Chasma. This work is done at the Planetary Geology Lab of the Institute of Geological Sciences at the Polish Academy of Sciences.


The LPSC meeting also hosted a special section about the newly formed Mapping and Planetary Spatial Information Team (MAPSIT), a community-based strategic and oversight body for planetary mapping. The 15 members of its steering committee represent US universities (7 members), the USGS (7 members) and NASA (1 member). With this new term in their name, this group broadens its subject area to various fields related to planetary cartography. In their definition: “Planetary Spatial Infrastructure is the technology, policies, standards, human resources, software tools, and related activities necessary to acquire, process, distribute, use, maintain, and preserve planetary spatial data for science and exploration.”.


Four maps of The Martian

We have collected four maps showing the traverse of The Martian movie.

1. The NASA / American map

Available in NASA’s MarsTrek webGIS platform as separate layer


2. The DRL / German map

Produced by DLR in Berlin, using data from ESA’s MarsExpress.



3. The Ordnance Survey / British map

Made by Florian Kneilmann, who modified the original, new Ordnance Survey map published in Flickr.


4. The ICA / International map

That was our contribution.


Planetary cartography at EGU2016

The program of EGU 2016 has been published today. Planetary cartography-related topics will be presented during the “New missions and techniques for planetary explorationPICO session, in which speakers will have 2 minutes to present their ideas. These sessions are called “2-minutes-madness” by the PICO inventors. We note that PICO is a registered trademark and their video explaining what it is about is exactly 3 minutes and 20 seconds long.


Reality check: Geological mapping

Did Apollo traverse planning and surface operations facilitate accurate geologic interpretations of the lunar surface? Researchers tried to determine the validity of the Apollo-style approach to surface exploration from a geology perspective. As we cannot revisit the sites explored by Apollo astronauts to address this question, they instead turned to an analog test (Desert-RATS) in the Arizona desert that was planned and executed in an approach similar to the last three Apollo “J” missions. The first, already-published ‘orbital’ map was used to plan the Desert-RATS traverses, then the other two maps were generated independently from one another, in two teams, to compare the geology interpreted from the Apollo-style traverses (Lab Team) to that interpreted from traditional field mapping (Field Team). They found that the Apollo approach was very effective for characterizing local geology, and that future surface exploration missions should maximize astronaut access to the field site to facilitate accurate interpretations of local geology.
The results also confirmed that investigating local geology with “boots on the ground” and “noses to the outcrops” substantially increases our understanding of local geology.
All three resulting maps showed generally the same geology, but those produced from field work data showed more discoveries that were below the map scale and not visible from overhead images. The best understanding of site geology came from integrating pre-mission data, post-mission lab data and field observations into a single product.
The analysis also showed that there is an optimal field work duration after which gaining new knowledge slows down considerably.
The results of the experiment were presented at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, CA.

Source: Epper D, Bleacher J, Evans C, Greuner J, Hurwitz D, Janoiko B, Skinner J, Whitson P (2015) Field checking Apollo: comparing geologic datasets collected by planetary analog traverses and by standard geologic mapping – implications for planetary exploration and planning. AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco.


a) Aerial/Orbital photomap, Apollo analog and standard field traverses
b) Map produced from orbital/aerial images
c) Map produced from data collected in a simulated astronaut expedition (post-mission images, videos, crew field notes and returned samples)
d) Map produced using standard terrestrial field geologic mapping techniques

Planetary Cartography at LPSC

There will be two special sessions dedicated to planetary cartography at the upcoming Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (March 21-25).

An oral session is entitled AT THE INTERSECTION OF GISCIENCE AND PLANETARY SCIENCE will have several talks and a poster session about the present and future of planetary cartography in general, while planetary geologic mapping results will be presented at a poster session.