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New Map of Mars Created by the Ordnance Survey May Guide Future Astronauts

First Posted: Feb 17, 2016 01:00 PM EST
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The Ordnance Survey has officially gone off-world. The British mapping agency has released a Mars map, created with the help of NASA open data.

This is the first time that Ordnance has created a map of another planet. The map itself covers about 3.8 million square miles, or about 7 percent of the total Martian surface, and could potentially be used in the future when exploring Mars.

OS used a soft color palette when creating a map and includes contours and grid lines. The map even has a legend in order to see the scale.

"It was a little hard at first to actually understand the data itself in terms of things like the elevation and the scale and so on," said Chris Wesson, the OS cartographer who created the map, in an interview with BBC News. "But actually the physical process was almost identical to what was used to make an Earth map."

Becoming more familiar with Mars is an important part of eventually putting an astronaut on the Red Planet.

"The private sector and space agencies are currently in competition to land the first person on Mars," said David Henderson, OS Director of Products, in a news release. "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. We were asked to map an ara of Mars in an OS style because our maps are easy to understand and present a compelling visualization, and because of this we can envisage their usefulness in planning missions and for present information to the public."

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