In an unprecedented step into the future, the British mapping agency Ordnance Survey creates a unique digital map of Mars and releases it for everyone to see.
The map, which is easy to read and understand, reveals the Red Planet’s landscapes in fine detail. According to experts, it covers 7% of Mar’s surface, which is about 3,8 million square miles.
As David Henderson, head of the Ordnance Survey, explains, right now space agencies worldwide are in direct competition with each other in terms of who will send the first man on Mars.
He further points out that “becoming more familiar with space is something that interests us all and the opportunity to apply our innovative cartography and mapping trade craft to a different planet was something we couldn’t resist.”
The organization, which is responsible for mapping out Britain’s transit ways, was tasked with mapping out one of Mars’ regions using self-explanatory visuals. According to specialists, this will prove quite useful in planning future missions and it will also serve as a way to educate the public about the mysterious planet.
Chris Wesson, who is a cartographer, says that a Mars map presents very different concepts than an Earth map in terms of design and aesthetics. He further explains that a map of Earth will most likely include things like churches, craters and landing sites, while Mars’ topography is quite different.
Seeing how the Red planet displays an uneven surface, the specialists needed to make use of different lighting in order to highlight certain landscapes and features.
One thing we can notice from their map is that it’s not as red as we would have imagined. Chris Wesson says that he wanted to keep things as simple as possible, by focusing on things like place names and elevation data.
The agency is confident that their topography could be used for future Mars explorations within 5-10 years and even for the ExoMars journey, which is set for 2018.
The autumn of 2015 marked a historic moment in science, as NASA announced they had discovered water on Mars, while later in October the agency declared that by 2030 humans could inhabit the Red Planet.
The ExoMars mission is being developed by the European Space Agency in partnership with the Russian Federal Space Agency, with the purpose of finding biosignatures of Martian life, either past or present.
The ExoMars rover is set to be launched two years from now through a Russian Proton launch vehicle.
Image Source: DailyMail