Towards a new face for Planetary Maps: Design and web-based Implementation of Planetary Basemaps
Modern planetary maps are designed either as stand-alone products or as part of a map series and are commonly distributed in the Portable Document Format (pdf). With the advent of web-based map technology and its standardization, experimental steps towards digital-only and dynamic map display for planetary cartography have been made. Commonly, maps design and concepts were limited to the arrangement (stacking) of various data layers while any deeper cartographic concepts or questions about usability seemed to be of secondary importance. We here present a new cartographic approach of creating a web basemap for Mars by refining and integrating commonly available data and by building on a cartographic concept. The underlying concepts we elaborated upon are, however, valid for any other planetary body and are applicable in the same or at least very similar way to any other solar system body. With this approach we want to demonstrate that for the creation of web maps in the planetary sciences the cartographic process does not stop at the collection and literal stacking of data, but that dynamic planetary maps can have a considerably higher communication value through concepts and design. As much as web maps are dynamic, so are concepts and new developments, and we tried to implement a web basemap reflecting the common understanding and picture that laymen as well as professionals might have about Mars.