Map Porn Part 1: Inter-Planetary Topography

Inter-Planetary Topography and Splashes of Colour

Have you ever pondered about the topography of the moon’s surface? Well I have. My brain works in weird and wacky ways. So naturally before we expose what the moon’s surface actually looks like, you need to see what the moon would look if you were on acid. courtesy of The Mighty Boosh.

Previously, we saw a meteor that looks like and email from space. So now let’s look at two moons rendered in beautiful splashes of colour like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Our Moon

Inter-Planetary Topography and Jackson Pollock

 Image Source: LPOD Lunar Photos

As the most fascinating and brightest object in our night sky, the Moon has 11,000 craters that are visible even on a small telescope. Since it begun circling our earth 4.5 billion years ago, the Moon has become an important part of our human history and fables. It has been conquered as well firstly by the Americans, then the Russians, Chinese and Japanese. Older than all of us, it’s got a lot to teach us if we listen with our eyes to its soft glow. Click on the photo to see the larger version.

Inter-Planetary Topography and Future Space Travel

Image Source NASA: A topographical view of the moon

Ganymede: Our Solar System’s Biggest Moon

This is an animation of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, with a geologic map superimposed over a global color mosaic. The 37-second animation begins as a global color mosaic image of the moon then quickly fades into the geologic map. Click on the photo to see the larger version.

Inter-Planetary Topography and Splashes of Colour

Image Source

 The seventh moon out from Jupiter, Ganymede is roughly the same size as Mercury, making it the largest moon in our solar system.

The crust of Ganymede is filled with water, salt, ice and silicate rock. Other organic compounds such as sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide are also present on this moon. The surface is made up of ancient craters and younger grooved areas. The reason for the topography is still up for debate, but the generally accepted opinion is that the grooves and craters are caused by tectonic activity at Ganymede’s core. Unlike almost all other moons, Ganymede also has a substantial magnetosphere. This means that this moon is theoretically inhabitable with life, as the magnetosphere protects life from the harmful solar rays.

We still haven’t explored the surface yet, we have only taken pictures from satellites. It’s still a mystery, perhaps there are aliens living on it! The measurement of planetary habitability and the scientific requirements required to support life is too complex to get into here, but you can read more about it on Wikipedia.

Read more…

Infoaesthetics: Stunning Art or Infographic? Both

Infoaesthetics: Lunar Composition Map

Geoscience on Tumblr

Stay tuned as next week we explore topographical maps more closer to home…

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

15 thoughts on “Map Porn Part 1: Inter-Planetary Topography

  1. WOW!!

    Love this post. As you know I’m an avid fan of space art and have been known to try my hand at it from time to time. Planetary exploration and the maps that result never fail to astound me…especially false-color maps which show much of the detail hidden in “true color” surface photographs.

    Can’t wait to see the topographical maps in your next installment!!

    Very Best Regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you got some enjoyment out of this Eric. Space topographical maps make me ponder about how small we are compared to the universe, this is always a nice philosophical thought, because it makes our own preoccupations seem small too


      1. The sheer size and scale of the universe leaves me awestruck and the countless possibilities for different types of environments and life forms does indeed make me feel small. I guess that’s why I’m so pre-occupied with it in my art and writing.

        Best Regards,

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for sharing Eric 🙂 I think you may find this interesting. On Coursera they have a lot of amazing courses about space, extraterrestrial life, the origins of the universe, black holes, dark matter all that sort of thing. These look really interesting. I’ve been meaning to give one of these courses a go, but been so busy lately. If you have time, maybe check it out as it’s free. So glad you’re back in action with the art and writing. take care 🙂


      3. Many thanks for this link. Lots of subjects here besides astronomy. I think I might try my hand at one of them myself.

        Best Regards,


  2. whoa. I am so stoked and thrilled and awed!

    I searched for “strata geological graphic cartography” to hopefully find some ‘official’ or at least good-looking geological conventions or graphics to reference for some of my artwork.
    And I found Map-porn! , pt 2 1st, then pt 1.. I thought it was merely a clever title for a post – until I saw Kenya ( I have only quite recently been introduced to the abstract, astonishing beauty of Geological maps, by way of counting them, for the annual stock-take [!] of the State Library of Queensland) and then veered off to Ed Fairburns site!! I am equally enthralled, as I am gutted:
    This IS map-porn!!…and why am I even attempting to make art – when he has done THAT.
    Just incredible. I had no idea….phoaar.
    Well, and does it stop there? Course not: I’ve just been re-visiting TheMightyBoosh the last couple of weeks. and I find the Moon one of the most irritatin’ specimen in the show ( in which I find EVERYthing else pretty much brilliant….) So then to see ALL the Moon-bits cut into a loong string….WhaaaAAA!

    Sooo, what can I say: Hats off to you: The research, your taste, and the resulting curatin’ and writing. I feel like my mind has just been ambushed, blown and expanded in a rather profound and pleasantly wondrous way.

    Made my day – Thank you!


    Liked by 1 person

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