Terms of Reference for 1999-2003

Cartography is no longer confined only to our home planet. The overall theme for this working group is the harmonization of international planetary cartography efforts. Note that “harmonization” is not the same as “homogenization”; we are not advocating an effort to make all national programs look the same. Instead, we are interested in facilitating the free interchange of ideas and information between various national efforts, each of which incorporate some component of planetary cartography. To progress toward this goal, we propose the following terms of reference:

1. The promotion of all aspects of planetary cartography in an international setting. In this effort, we identify three distinct but mutually supportive uses for planetary cartographic materials: cartographic products used for scientific research, materials intended for use in education, and materials for public outreach. Each national effort will have its own unique mix of these three uses, but we wish to encourage the growth of all three aspects in each national program.

2. Documentation and analysis of the present status of planetary cartography within the international community. This effort was started during the previous term, but we intend to seek ways to solicit broader international participation in the surveys.

3. Evaluation of possible methods to enhance harmonization of planetary cartographic activities around the world. During the last term, we progressed on the development of a map of Mars with marginal notes presented in several languages. This map is nearing production, and we intend to explore how multi-lingual planetary maps (and supporting documentation) can be used effectively in several different countries. Our goal is to develop materials that can help disseminate some of the wonders of planetary science to all nations, not just the technological countries who are presently involved in planetary exploration.

4. Communication of conclusions and ideas with groups representing a wide variety of international scientific and educational communities. We have begun the process of identifying representatives from various interest groups within the nations currently involved in space exploration. The goal is to provide a mechanism to facilitate the free dissemination of information between groups that utilize various aspects of planetary information, but which may not be talking to each other effectively at present.

These terms will be addressed through the following list of proposed activities:

Proposed List of Activities for 1999-2003

1. Expand the World Wide Web site that was begun during the past term. The web page (http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/ceps/ica/) currently contains only basic materials about the Working Group and its goals. We intend to expand it to include links to web-based materials utilizing planetary cartographic products, which now exist in various forms in several nations. We also hope to make the Web site a place to share ideas, problems, and solutions related to the widest possible dissemination of planetary information.

2. Continue to collect information on the global status of planetary cartographic products and plans. This effort was begun during the last term in the form of an e-mail and regular mail survey which produced interesting but limited responses. We will investigate additional ways in which to compile information about planetary cartographic holdings and uses throughout the world, the results of which will eventually be made readily available over the Working Group Web site.

3. Production of a multi-lingual series of planetary maps. This work was begun last term with the development of a basic map of the physiography of Mars with accompanying text in English, Russian, German, French, and Spanish. We would like to eventually include Asiatic languages as well. After preliminary assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the Mars map, we intend to pursue subsequent multilingual maps of other planetary objects. It is our hope that these products will prove useful in disseminating planetary information to nations and cultures that may, at present, not have ready access to such information.

4. Expand liaison between the ICA, through the Working Group, and various national or international space-related groups. This effort was begun during the last term, but we recognize that many important agencies have not yet been contacted. We intend to identify persons who can serve as points of contact for inquiries about the activities or products available through the various agencies.

5. Schedule at least one meeting per year where the Working Group members can discuss issues face to face. In spite of the wonders of electronic information technology, it is still important to schedule regular times where we can meet and discuss issues in person. We will utilize the biannual ICA meetings as opportunities for the Working Group to meet, with at least one meeting annually during the intervening years at an institution of the various group members.

6. Expansion of a multilingual glossary of terms used in planetary cartography. This effort was begun during the last term, but the number of terms and languages is not yet representative of the need. The goal is to document terms that have different uses in various national programs, which can at times lead to confusion in the intended use of some products. An example is ‘hypsometric’, which in Russian is equivalent to ‘topographic’ in English and German usage. We believe that such a glossary could be helpful to a wide range of potential users of planetary cartographic materials.


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