Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

What kind of map is needed to best aide human explorers strutting about on Mars?

An international call is open to students, cartographers, and graphic artists from all countries to participate in planning the first human mission to Mars.

The International Cartographic Association (ICA) Commission on Planetary Cartography is organizing a competition for creating maps to find a suitable landing site for human explorers of Mars.

The contest is part of International Map Year activities.

Exploration zones

NASA’s march to Mars centers on a 2035 target date for the first human touchdown on the Red Planet.

Overview map shows all proposed Exploration Zones (EZ)/human landing sites for NASA's 2035 Mars mission. Credit: ICA/NASA

Overview map shows all proposed Exploration Zones (EZ)/human landing sites for NASA’s 2035 Mars mission.
Credit: ICA/NASA

Last year, nearly 50 landing sites or Exploration Zones (EZ) — each some 120 miles (200 kilometers) in diameter – were proposed by the planetary science community. These should be mapped in high detail in the forthcoming years to enable proper comparison of the sites and the selection of a final spot to be visited by an expeditionary crew.

Creativity required

The ICA initiative is to select one candidate landing site and design an actual map that a competition participant envisions will be useful in surface operations. Not wanted is just creating a simple geologic map.

Rather, what ICA is looking for is a product that can be used by Marswalkers during their approximately one-year long mission within the Exploration Zone. This requires creativity, and it is also useful to have a good knowledge of surface features, surface hazards, science goals and the use of the proper cartographic tools.

“Our goal is to develop maps that could ultimately be used by the astronauts during their daily field works,” explains the ICA website. “Technology can change a lot between now and 2035. The field maps will most likely be digital maps, shown on display, VR glasses, projected onto the helmet or made visible by a yet-to-discover technology. We can’t know the future mapping technology so what we ask is to make a map that you would find it useful to orient yourself in the chosen EZ, document future plans and already visited sites, mark the locations of the landmarks and habitat units.”

Example of one proposed landing site for humans near America's Viking 1 lander. Credit: H Hargitai/coordinates from JMARS2035

Example of one proposed landing site for humans near America’s Viking 1 lander.
Credit: H Hargitai/coordinates from JMARS2035

 

 

 

 

Deadline of submission of maps and papers: September 1, 2016. Submission can be electronic or paper (paper submissions must arrive at NASA Ames Research Center in California no later than September 15, 2016).

 

 

 

 

For detailed information on the competition, go to:

https://planetcarto.wordpress.com/2016/04/22/mars-exploration-zone-map-competition/

 

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