Planetary Scientists Create Pocket Atlas of Mars
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The 84-page atlas of Mars, currently available in English, Hungarian and Czech, was developed as a part of a public outreach project supported by the Europlanet Central European Hub.

The map of Tharsis region of Mars from the Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. Image credit: NASA / JPL / GSFC / ESA / DLR / FU / H. Hargitai.

“The maps in the new atlas are manually edited, using accurate data from missions and models,” said map editor Dr. Henrik Hargitai, a researcher in the Department of Media and Communications at the Eötvös Loránd University.

“Thematic maps that reveal patterns in physical geography have been used for decades for in terrestrial atlases, but this is the first time that they are available in an atlas for Mars.”

The main part of the atlas consists of a series of double spreads showing each of the 30 cartographic quadrangles into which the surface of Mars has been divided by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The landforms created by lava, wind, water, and ice are shown separately on a topographic base map, highlighting features such as dune fields, mountain peaks, volcanic calderas, caves, ancient dried-up lakes and deltas, and fault lines.

For the first time in a published Mars atlas, climate maps are included, which show 13 climatic zones with boundaries defined by combining seasonal temperature and frost data.

A series of climate diagrams show the variation in temperature through the Martian year for each of the zones.

In addition, a weather map shows the temperature at ground level across the western hemisphere of Mars at the two annual solstices.

The Pocket Atlas of Mars 36. Image credit: NASA / JPL / GSFC / ESA / DLR / FU / H. Hargitai.

The atlas includes an albedo map, derived from data from ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiters.

It shows the amount of sunlight reflected from the surface, the frequently cloudy regions and the maximum area covered by the seasonal caps of frozen carbon dioxide and water ice at the Martian poles.

The atlas also includes a one-page calendar for Mars year 36, covering the period from February 2021 to December 2022, which explains the milestones in the seasonal changes on Mars.

“We believe that geographic multi-layer maps are the future of planetary cartography,” Dr. Hargitai said.

“In addition to single-themed relief (elevation, hillshading, nomenclature) and geologic maps, feature themes (valley networks, glacial features, dunes etc.) will be added to the maps.”

“This requires the maintenance of GIS-ready feature databases in a public online repository, and the creation of new datasets, either from imagery, or from non-GIS works published in the literature.”

The new atlas of Mars will be presented this week at the 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

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H.I. Hargitai. The pocket atlas of Mars: a public outreach project. 52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2021, abstract # 2109

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