Methods of Geoinformation Science

Topographic and thematic maps of the Red Planet

PIMap - The »Planetary Image Mapper«

Based on the data recorded by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board the Mars Express orbiter, various maps were produced at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation Science. The main focus was on the map series "Topographic Image Map Mars 1:200 000".

The cartographic software product "Planetary Image Mapper" (PIMap) was developed specifically for the production of planetary maps and maps.

With the help of this software package it is possible to automatically generate the entire map content of a topographic map sheet. This includes the orthoimage, the generation of contour lines derived from the HRSC terrain model, all text elements in the map sheet and map grid lines, map frames, the map title, map number and all information for the entire map sheet including all explanations and finally the legend and publisher's notes. The map sheet generated in this way combines all raster and vector information in a PDF data set that can be printed at any time if required.


Topographic Image Map Mars 1:200 000

The map series "Topographic Image Map Mars 1:200 000" was defined as the standard map series for mapping the surface of Mars.

The map series was conceived against the background of making use of the enormous potential of the HRSC data for an optimal cartographic representation of the planet Mars. The basis is the HRSC orthoimages, which are supplemented by contour lines and topographic names. In total, the surface of Mars is mapped on 10,372 individual map sheets. For the range from 85° north to 85° south latitude, the map sheets are calculated on the basis of the sinusoidal projection. Lambert's true-surface azimuthal projection, on the other hand, is used for mapping the polar regions.

While all map sheets have a latitudinal extent of 2°, the longitude extent of the sheets varies from 2° in the equatorial zone to 360° at the poles. This ensures that the depicted display area for all map sheets is approximately the same size at approx. 120x120 square kilometres.

For the production of "Special Target Maps" at different scales, the standard map sheets can be converted quickly and conveniently and thus form the ideal basis for projects in the field of thematic cartography. Finally, the "Catalog of Large Martian Impact Craters" is also included in the concept of the "Topographic Image Map Mars 1:200 000". This constantly updated catalogue contains topographic and geological data of more than 40 000 craters. As additional information in the map series, these are identified by corresponding labels.

The illustration shows an example of a regular sheet from the map series at a scale of 1:200 000. In practice, the suitability of the HRSC data for this concept could be tested using various large-scale map sheets. With the concept presented, map series in the larger scale range from 1:100 000 to 1:50 000 can be systematically produced by appropriately quartering the representation area.

The regular designation of this map sheet, which shows the "Iani Chaos Region", is: "M 200k 0.00N/343.00E OMKT". Here, "M" typifies the planet Mars; "200k" indicates the scale of 1:200,000; "00N/343.00E" indicates the coordinates (longitude in latitude) of the centre of the sheet; finally, the passage "OMKT" indicates that it is an ortho-mosaic in colour (K) and that topographic information (nomenclature and contour lines) is included in the map.

Thematische Karten

The geomorphological map project was developed in close cooperation with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Berlin-Adlershof and the Institute of Geosciences at the Free University of Berlin.
The photogrammetric processing of the data was carried out at DLR in Berlin-Adlershof, while the geoscientific processing and interpretation was in the hands of the Institute of Geosciences at the Free University of Berlin. Both the conception and the entire cartographic production process were realised by the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation Science at the Technical University of Berlin.

In January 2004, the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board of the Mars Express spacecraft delivered the first data from the surface of Mars. The camera provides high-resolution colour stereo data, which form an excellent data basis for the derivation of photogrammetric and cartographic products. Detailed cartographic mapping of the Martian surface is one of the main objectives of this mission.
The experiment "HRSC on Mars Express" is led by Professor Dr. Gerhard Neukum (Freie Universität Berlin). The German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin-Adlershof is responsible for the photogrammetric processing of the image data. The Technical University of Berlin was involved in the project with the development of the cartographic software and with the design and production of maps.


Cartography, Extra-terrestrial, Planetary Cartography, Mars, High Resolution, DHM/DGM, Topographic Maps, Thematic Maps, Image Maps, HRSC.

Contact person

  • Hartmut Lehmann