The map could help scientists land spacecraft on Mars in the future.
The Ordnance Survey has just released a digital map of a significant amount of terrain from the surface of the Red Planet.
The map is pretty big, covering 3.8 million square miles, about 7 percent of the total surface of Mars.
And it could be a valuable map, potentially assisting a British scientist who is hoping to land a rover on Mars in 2019. Many large areas on Mars look flat but are actually quite rocky and uneven, and the map helps show the surface in much greater detail to bring out those features.
It’s definitely the first time OS has made a map of territory on a different planet, and it was certainly a challenge to understand the data in a way that the OS could actually produce a digital map. However, OS cartographer Chris Wesson said eventually they realized it was very similar to how they would make any Earth map.
The Ordnance Survey is the national mapping agency for Great Britain, and is one of the largest producers of maps in the world.
“The private sector and space agencies are currently in competition to land the first person on Mars. Becoming more familiar with space is something that interests us all and the opportunity to apply our innovative cartography and mapping tradecraft to a different planet was something we couldn’t resist,” David Henderson, OS Director of Products, said in a statement. “We were asked to map an area of Mars in an OS style because our maps are easy to understand and present a compelling visualisation, and because of this we can envisage their usefulness in planning missions and for presenting information about missions to the public.”