J.R. Zimbelman

Smithsonian Institution, CEPS/NASM, Washington, DC, USA


Several active spacecraft at the planet Mars have returned a wide variety of data that are amenable to mapping projects.  Research projects supported by grants from several programs within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) make use of the new data in a variety of applications.  On-going (or recently completed) research projects carried out by the author will be used to illustrate the cartographic potential of various imaging and geophysical data sets obtained from several NASA spacecraft at Mars.  One project involves the study of wind-related (aeolian) bedforms, with wavelengths of 10 to 100 meters, found in and around topographic obstacles throughout the equatorial and mid-latitudes of Mars.  Images obtained from the two Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) and from cameras on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), Mars Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) show the aeolian bedforms over a considerable range of scales, providing insights into the formation processes that produced these features.  Another project involves the study of long lava flows on Mars, with an emphasis on the morphology of the flow margins, makes use of images and geophysical information obtained from MGS, Mars Odyssey, and MRO instruments.  The enigmatic Medusae Fossae Formation materials that blanket nearly one-third of the equatorial latitudes of Mars were investigated through the production of a geologic map that utilized images and topographic data from the MGS and Mars Odyssey spacecraft.  A recently concluded project focused an evaluation of hypothesized standing bodies of water on Mars by searching for shoreline beach ridges in images and topographic data from the MGS and Mars Odyssey spacecraft.  In each of these examples, the analysis depended on the use of map-projected images and geophysical data, and often resulted in cartographic products.  The ready accessibility of all of these data types over the internet means that cartographic products will likely play an increasing role in the on-going investigations of Mars.