Ordnance Survey releases map of Mars

The British mapmakers use NASA data to help Mars explorers navigate the Red Planet.

16th February 2016
Ordnance Survey releases map of Mars (© Ordnance Survey/flickr)

Anyone on these fair shores will have gone for a walk, got lost and reached for their trusty Ordnance Survey map at some point in their travels. Now, anyone who makes the six-month mission to Mars will be able to find their way to the nearest landmark thanks to a new one-off digital map of the Martian landscape.

Not content with their database of 500 million geographic features of Great Britain, OS has used NASA data to turn their eye on the Red Planet, creating a 1-to-4-million scale digital map that covers nearly 10 million km of the Western Arabia Terra. As well as finding landmarks like the Schiapparelli crater and a region where almost every other feature is called chaos, you can also see where the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity landed.

It’s not the first time we’ve had a map of Mars, as far back as 2009 Google Mars was made by the search giants, so why have the Ordnance Survey got into the game?

“The private sector and space agencies are currently in competition to land the first person on Mars,” says David Henderson, OS Director of Products. “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.”

Britons have been thumbing their way over Ordnance Survey maps for 225 years now, but the map of Mars marks their first departure outside the UK since the mid-90s. In fact, in 2016 they have gone one better and made a map that’s out of this world!

Image © Ordnance Survey/flickr