Welcome to the first USGS-NASA Planetary Geologic Mapping Program Quarterly Report! We have been focusing on getting USGS-published geologic maps through the review process and into the hands of community users. Simultaneously, we have made strides toward digitizing past-published hard copy maps to help make them more searchable and accessible. Read on to see what else we have been up to!
USGS-NASA Planetary Geologic Mapping Quarterly Update - Spring 2023
Map Highlight(s): Shalbatana Vallis and Mariner 9
When planetary scientists think of Mars today, we think of a planet with a geologic history much like our own, with complex volcanic, fluvial, and tectonic systems. Mars has even become prominent enough in popular culture (thanks, Matt Damon) that most people know that Mars has large dust storms, is home to the largest known volcano in the solar system (Olympus Mons), and has ice on its’ surface.
The recently released USGS Geologic Map of the Source Region of Shalbatana Vallis, Mars (Berman et al., 2023) is a detailed look at one of Mars' unique outflow channels - Shalbatana Vallis - which originates within the collapsed floor of Orson Welles crater. This map is a great example of just how far planetary mapping, especially on Mars, has advanced within the last 50 years.
What’s new in planetary mapping
Over the past several years, the PGM group has overhauled its online resources. If you haven’t visited the Planetary Geologic Mapping Program website lately, it’s worth taking a look! The website has been significantly updated to provide more user-friendly access to resources and information about planetary mapping, including GIS resources and tutorials, map search tools, and interactive maps.
EXPLORE THE NEW PLANETARY GEOLOGIC MAPPING WEBSITE
SEARCH FOR IN-PROGRESS AND PUBLISHED USGS PLANETARY MAPS
Virtual office hours now available for GIS and mapping questions
Are you tired of trying to explain GIS questions over email? Can't get help in person? Are you far down the internet search rabbit hole with no hope in sight?
In 2022, the Planetary Geologic Mapping Program began offering live GIS and mapping support to the planetary community through weekly virtual office hours!
Office hours are held over Microsoft Teams every Wednesday from 12 - 3 pm eastern (9 am - 12 pm pacific), or by appointment.
Email email@example.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.
In March 2023, the highly-anticipated User's Guide to Planetary Image Analysis and Geologic Mapping in ArcGIS Pro was released! This comprehensive tutorial introduces the technical GIS concepts of planetary geologic mapping using ArcGIS Pro.
- Exercise 1: Introduction to the ArcGIS Pro interface and importing existing ArcMap projects
- Exercise 2: Working with raster data - changing display and symbology settings, creating mosaic datasets, projections, geoprocessing tools, raster functions
- Exercise 3: Working with vector data - creating features using an existing database, drawing map features, creating polygons from linear features
- Exercise 4: Completing a geospatial analysis using geoprocessing tools and raster functions, and creating custom raster functions
- Exercise 5: Creating map layouts
This tutorial is written for all levels and can be used by anyone from the GIS novice, to the experienced mapper who wants to learn some helpful tricks or how to work in ArcGIS Pro.
Download tutorial data (note: this data is needed to complete the tutorial)
In 2022, we released an updated version of the Planetary Geologic Mapping Protocol document. This publication includes key information for current and aspiring map authors, and serves as a go-to resource through the entire map process. Topics include:
- Roles and expectations for map authors
- Map package components and their requirements
- Stages of the mapping process, including submission and map review
- Common mapping pitfalls
If you are a map author, or are considering a mapping project, we strongly encourage you to read through this document carefully and keep it on hand as you complete your map.
This document is regularly updated to reflect current mapping guidelines.
Recent map releases
Several new maps have been released in the past year. All new planetary geologic maps are released through the USGS Publications Warehouse, and have a corresponding web-based interactive map to improve accessibility and make it easier for people to explore these valuable products. Explore some of the recently-released maps below:
USGS SIM 3477: Geologic Map of the Athabasca Valles Region, Mars (2021)
USGS SIM 3480: Geologic Map of the Aeolis Dorsa Region, Mars (2021)
USGS SIM 3489: Geologic Map of Morava Valles and Margaritifer Basin, Mars (2022)
Even more interactive maps!
In addition to the newly-published maps, the PGM group is also working to make interactive versions of all previously-published USGS planetary maps. In the past year, many maps have been dusted off and made interactive, including several lunar maps, and our first interactive map of Mercury. Some of these maps are highlighted below. You can also explore all the available interactive maps on our PGM GIS Hub page.
USGS SIM 3297: Geologic Map of Tooting Crater, Amazonis Planitia Region of Mars (2015)
USGS IMAP 2289: Geologic Map of the Memphis Facula Quadrangle of Ganymede (1992)
USGS IMAP 703: Geologic Map of the Near Side of the Moon (1971)
What’s in a name? The USGS Planetary Nomenclature project, administered by the Astrogeology Science Center for NASA and the International Astronomical Union since 1982, fulfils the planetary science community’s need for a clear and unambiguous system of planetary nomenclature. Geologic maps heavily utilize these internationally recognized name to identify units and place geologic observations into a broader geographic context.
The IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature has approved seventeen new planetary feature names in the first quarter of 2023, including a Mars crater named for NASA astronomer Nancy Grace Roman (left), seven paterae and one eruptive center on Io, and eight rupēs names on Mercury. Please see the News section in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for details. Contact Tenielle Gaither at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on planetary nomenclature.
To request a feature name for your mapping area, please email Tenielle Gaither.
Request a paper map
Do you have a favorite map that you want to hang on your wall? Are you teaching a class and looking for materials? As a public government agency, the USGS provides free paper copies of our planetary maps to the planetary science community. Astrogeology Science Center gives these maps out to promote public outreach and encourage free, open science for all.
We provide maps for a plethora of uses, including but not limited to:
- Planetary Mappers who would like to have a paper copy of a map relevant to their work
- Elementary-to-University level educators for use in their classrooms
- Students curious about potential areas of interest for future research
- Visual artists that draw inspiration from our colorful geologic maps
- Historians who are curious about the evolution of planetary mapping through the ages
- Curious minds who simply have an interest in the field of planetary mapping
If this is something that interests you, browse our catalog of maps to find the required information needed to submit a request (USGS map number and title). Please note that maps are available on a first come, first served basis and our supplies are limited, so we can not guarantee that we will be able to provide the exact map requested.
Meet the PGM team
The PGM team has grown a lot in the past few years! Explore our staff bios below to learn more.
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