Watney approves: Ordnance Survey has created a map of Mars

Watney approves: Ordnance Survey has created a map of Mars

The British Cartographic Agency Ordnance Survey has created a map of the Martian surface using updated NASA data, and it is beautiful.

During my school years, I was an avid hiker, and the Ordnance Survey maps (yes, paper maps, none of your iPhones) were an integral part of my research on British nature. Whenever I blundered in the swamps of Dartmoor or tried to break through Snowdonia’s rugged ravines, there was always an OS card with me, usually all splattered with mud, hastily crumpled in my pocket, and with it an old kind plastic compass (yes, this is a real compass with magnetic arrow, none of your jeepies). I still remember with warmth that no matter how lost I was, all I had to do was check the map: the incredible accuracy of the OS always allowed me and my fellow hikes to go down the path to the house.

So when I found out that the OS presented their own map of the Martian surface, I was delighted. And when I saw the full resolution versions that they posted on Flickr, I was not disappointed.

The most salty of the OS maps is the superbly detailed outlines that depict the landscape in a soft palette, which on the one hand does not irritate the eyes, and on the other, contains all the crucial information. Adhering to its traditional style, OS used data from NASA for the most accurate transfer of landscape differences, a much more noble style than most modern maps of extraterrestrial surfaces. “The style of this card is very different both from the usual planetary map and from what the OS does,” says OS map designer Chris Wesson in a blog post. It took him two months to create it.

“The key elements of the style was a soft color palette; as in the traditional map, there are contours (in orange-brown tones) and grid lines (made in cyan), as well as legend legend, ”he says. “We even have such familiar elements as a heading, a scale, and a coordinate breakdown, which you will often not see on space agency maps. In order to shade uneven terrain, to give a more voluminous idea of ​​its contours, as well as to optimize the location of marks, various cartographic techniques were used, such as multiple light sources and tone contrast. ”

The map shows the landing sites of Martian expeditions and craters with their own names.

Looking at the Martian landscape sprawled on this beautiful map, one wants to deploy its paper version on the way through the Meridian Plateau, or in search of the Opportunity rover, or making his way through the gorges of the Mariner valleys. Wesson, however, is aware that such use is hardly appropriate, given that all this would have to be done in a spacesuit.

“I would like to think that someday people will be able to check the map with the Martian landscape around them, just like in some British outback, but the map will look a little different anyway,” he says. “I have to take off the gloves to unfold the map, even on the ski slopes. So in any case, you need to think about the possibilities of its use. Do astronauts have helmet displays? ” Alas, a paper map is impractical not only therefore - if I wanted to revive children's experiences and go off Mars with a map and a compass, I would in any case need a global magnetic field to use the latter. Mars does not have it, which means that there is no magnetic north to which it could point, that is, I would still have to turn to a certain Martian GPS. Sorrow!

Still, the OS map shows how we could look at the alien landscape in the familiar, earthly light - especially if it can be used for future Martians. Mark Watney approves.

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