Home' Position : Position 86 Dec-Jan 2017 Contents Upcoming Events
23-25 January 2017: Geospatial
Intelligence for National Security
(DGI Europe); London, UK.
24-25 January 2017: Australia Day
Seminar; Sydney, NSW.
24-26 January 2017: Esri Geodesign
Summit; Redlands, California, USA.
27 February-1 March 2017:
Australian Government Data
Summit; Canberra, ACT. bit.ly/2g9PXFU
20-22 March 2017: Association
of Public Authority Surveyors
Conference (APAS2017). Shoal Bay,
21-28 March 2017: FME World Tour
2017; Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne,
2-5 April 2017: SPAR 3D Expo &
Conference; Houston, Texas, USA.
3-6 April 2017: Locate Conference
& ISDE Symposium; Sydney, NSW.
27-21 April 2017: International
Conference on Geographical
Information Systems Theory,
Applications and Management;
Porto, Portugal. www.gistam.org
23-24 May 2017: GEO Business;
London, UK. geobusinessshow.com
23-25 May 2017: CeBIT Australia;
Sydney, NSW. www.cebit.com.au
29 May-2 June 2017: FIG Working
Week 2017; Helsinki, Finland. www.fig.
6-9 June 2017: ISPRS Workshop;
25-29 September 2017: International
Astronautical Congress; Adelaide, SA.
How do you map a planet that
no human has stepped foot on;
one that has no oceans, roads or
forests or positioning satellites to guide
you? When it comes to cartography,
a featureless planet like Mars is the
cartographic challenge of the age.
With SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s
vision to colonise the red planet in “50 to
100 years” and many others predicting
the first visit within the 2030s, creative
navigational solutions are needed to
ensure the first Martians can find their
way, and also, survive.
That’s why The International
Cartographic Association Commission
on Planetary Cartography this year
held the Mars Exploration Zone Map
Design Competition. Entries needed to
consider an exhaustive list of practical
considerations, including viable landing
sites, access to resources, scientific
relevance and, crucially, tools for
navigation. Winning entries included a
feature chart synonymous with a hiking
map used on Earth, as well as an all-
in-one app for Mars that shamelessly
borrows from video game design.
Another entrant had ideas for what
happens on the ground. Instead of a
handheld device or map, Jonathan Ocon
focussed on the space suit itself. The Visor
Projection Survey Tool (VPST) would use
augmented and virtual reality technology
to project geospatial information onto the
user’s visor, allowing real-time false colour
modes and wireless communications to
assistive robots and satellites.
Perhaps the best solution, however, is
also the simplest: an old-fashioned map.
The winner of the Young Professional
category, Eian Ray, devised a map
that characterises Mars by its two
most significant features: geology and
topography. Each rock or sediment type
would be colour-coded to give meaning
to an otherwise alien surface. The unique
signature of the formations would
therefore become the street signs by
which to find your way.
Ray’s subject area and proposed
landing site was the Eastern Valles
Marineris (shown above), often referred
to as the Grand Canyon of Mars. This
valley, however, is actually 20 times the
size. With cliffs up to 7 kms in height, it
may not only be a great place for rock
climbing, but also for examining Mars’
geology and the history of the planet.
The map also contains fictional names,
which Ray included to “help foster a sense
of place as the astronauts begin to develop
a geospatial awareness of their new
“In the unfamiliar environment of the
Martian landscape, I wanted to create
a sense of place for the explorers,” Ray
explains. “On Mars there will be no place,
culture, people, food, sights or smells that
can provide this context. The life-support
and equipment that accompany them will
be intimately familiar to the explorers, but
even these objects won’t fill many of the
social, emotional, and geospatial needs
firmly planted in our psyches through an
Earthly evolutionary process.” ■
Navigating a new planet
4 position December/January 2017
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