The map above shows the Western Arabia Terra region of Mars. It was created by the Ordnance Survey, Britain’s official mapping agency.
It is the latest subject in their long line of iconic OS paper maps. It is one-off map, created using NASA open data and made to a 1:4,000,000 scale.
On their blog, Cartographic Designer, Chris Wesson explains a few interesting details about the map.
What makes this Mars map unique?
We have set out from the start to treat the Mars data no different to how we would OS GB data or any other Earth-based geographic information or landscape.
What OS ingredients are added that do not exist on other Mars maps?
The cartographic style is something that is very different to your typical planetary map and is identifiable as an OS map. The key ingredients to this style are the soft colour palette, the traditional map features such as contours (in brown-orange) and grid lines (in cyan), and the map sheet layout complete with legend.
We even have a far more traditional representation of map components such as title, scale bar and graticules when compared with equivalent maps by space agencies and so on.
Various cartographic techniques such as multiple lighting angles and exaggerations have also been used to enhance the shading of the relief, as well as to produce a generalised set of contour lines and optimise map label placement.
Why isn’t the map all red?
Mars is ‘the red planet’ but Earth-based maps are not always blue and green. Maps of Mars tend to take on more muted shades of red, use a rich colour palette more synonymous with planetary mapping or stick to greyscale.
What I wanted to achieve, or at least to investigate if it were possible, was to represent the data in the way OS would have had we been given Earth data to create a regular map sheet in a typical OS style.
Using shades of just one colour makes it harder to see and picture the landscape and all the features within it from a map. Red is also a very dominant colour that is not very supporting of thematic overlays such as landing sites or place names.
You can read the full post here.
Alternatively you can find many of their maps on Amazon.
Finally, if you’d like to learn more about Mars consider the following books:
- Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission
- The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must
- The Martian
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