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, https://3dviewer.net/ 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 (www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/lunar-south-pole-atlas/). 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.

Call for presentation at ICC2019 Workshop

We invite you.to participate in Joint ICA Workshop

Cartography for specific users on July 15th, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.
Registration is free and papers will be accepted for presentation.
Deadline for the submission of papers and abstracts with registration form: April 22, 2019

Notification of the authors: May 6, 2019

Deadline for the submission of the registration form (without full paper, only participant): June 10, 2019
More information: http://icaworkshop2019.elte.hu/

Report on the Commission Meeting 2018

We have held a commission meeting during the EPSC 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The topics covered were the followings: 

  • Search for publication tools to make ICA CPC publications more visible and more referenced (reviews, blogs, link to publication platforms like sciencedirect.com, Wikipedia presence, contact potential educators directly (via mailing list) to call attention to available publications related to planetary cartography and to encourage them to use it).
  • Chair change: current chair proposes A. Nass (DLR). National ICA member (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kartographie) will be contact to propose A. Nass as next commission chair at General Assembly in Tokyo.  “The General Assembly shall, at the same time, approve terms of reference for that Commission.”
  • Standardization of map making and archiving in Europe: discussion on a ’standard’ map production  process (on European level) to ensure compatibility in creation and archiving
  • Archive for planetary mapping results is needed.  For this purpose a method has to be compiled that enables an efficient and sustainable search for cartographic products (analogue and digital). Archive should include and base on already existing map database.     
  • Reviewing the quality of planetary maps (outside USGS mapping program) is a problem: we could form a group of volunteer reviewers who would help finalizing planetary maps
  • Children’s map series: continue and focus more on age group peculiarities: focus groups / tests with maps, including “reverse side” photomap, and variants, asking their interpretation
  • Next commission meeting in Tokyo 2019
  • ICC 2019, Tokyo: Commission abstract (poster) about the book (in preparation).

Berlin, 09.19.2018.

Signed: Henrik Hargitai, Andrea Naß


Annual Commission Meeting in September

This year’s annual commission meeting will take place connected to the European Planetary Science Congress event in Berlin, Germany.

Time: 0945 (meeting point)

Date: Wednesday, September 19,  2018.

Place: Meeting point: in front of the TU Berlin building (Hauptgebäude der Technischen Universität Berlin, Str. des 17. Juni 135, 10623 Berlin, Deutschland. (G87G+2Q Berlin, Deutschland). We will move to a meeting room from here.


If you are interested in participating, please come to the meeting point at 0945 or write to hhargitai@gmail.com for more information.

Commisson members and non-members are all welcome.

Topics: Past, present and future projects of the commission; new commission members, new chair selection process, suggestions for new projects.