The Red Planet Mars

The Red Planet Mars
National Geographic, February 1973

Hi everyone,

Since our last map brought us to the beautiful moon, I thought we could spend one more week chilling in outer space to look at this map of Mars before coming back to our earth. 🙂

Also produced by National Geographic, The Red Planet Mars probably belongs to the same series as The Earth’s Moon and has the same stylish designs and detailed illustrations. Like the late 60s map of the moon, meanwhile, this map of Mars made in 1973 also can’t provide us with the latest information either. Nonetheless, this map is still incredibly finely made and most of the information on the map is still largely accurate. 

The map presents three equatorial views of Mars based on the Lambert Azimuthal Equal-Area projection. There are a lot of features to explore. One of the features that interested me is the polar ice caps and, in particular, how the seasonal carbon dioxide exchange between the atmosphere and cryosphere that happens in the polar caps changes the gravity field on Mars. Moreover, the map also contains information about surface color, magnetic field, temperature, etc. 

In 1962, NASA initiated the Mariner program with the aim of exploring the inner solar system including Venus, Mars, and Mercury. The entire program spans from 1962 to 1973. The first attempt to flyby Mars was on November 5, 1964, but the launch failed due to a separation issue. A few days later, on November 28, 1964, Mariner 4 successfully launched and sent back the first close-up photos of Mars in 1965. Issued in 1973, it is possible that this map of Mars was made to commemorate the project. 

Have a great week!

Yidan Xu ’24