The "Where On Mars?" project started as an ESAC Trainee Project in collaboration with CartoDB. The objective was to prototype a web map visualisation of ESA's ExoMars 2018 rover candidate landing sites; serving the general purpose of increasing public awareness of the scientific and robotic exploration of Mars in Europe. Learn more
The 2018 mission of the ESA's ExoMars programme will deliver a European rover and a Russian surface platform to the surface of Mars. While the platform will study the martian environment, the rover will travel across the surface to search for signs of past and present life. It will collect samples with a drill and analyse them with next-generation instruments. ExoMars will be the first mission to combine the capability to move across the surface and to study Mars at depth. Learn more.
In October 2013, a Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG) was appointed to make recommendations to the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). After a call to the scientific community for landing sites, four candidate landing sites were shortlisted for further investigation, both in term of scientific interest and engineering safety. In October 2015, Oxia Planum was recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission. A further recommendation was made to also consider Oxia Planum as one of the two candidate landing sites for the backup launch opportunity in 2020. The year before launch, ESA will make the final decision. Learn more
The "Where On Mars?" interactive map has been designed to guide you through the main scientific and engineering constraints for the selection of the ExoMars 2018 landing site. It allows you to explore Mars and each candidate landing site using a selection of the same ESA and NASA planetary images, and additional geospatial information used by the scientists involved in the selection process. It relies on CartoDB and other open-source mapping technologies for processing, storing, and visualising data on the web. The source code of the front-end web interface is available on GitHub. Learn more
The objective and original idea for this project was twofold:
To experiment with the use of modern open-source web mapping technologies applied to planetary science data and geospatial information.
To increase public awareness of the ExoMars 2018 mission and, more generally, of the scientific and robotic exploration of Mars.
Given the nature of the ExoMars landing sites selection process, we hope that this project will continue as an open source and collaborative project. How to contribute?
This project was made possible because of a collaboration of people from ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) and CartoDB, and the support of Mars scientists.
ESAC Trainee Project Lead
Geospatial Data & Front-End Developer
Several new Mars basemaps and geospatial datasets have been created for this project. They are all available to anyone for use in CartoDB Editor, or your web mapping applications.
Whether you are an outreach and education professional, science journalist, planetary scientist, a web developer, or simply like this project, you can contribute!
If you like this interactive map, spread the word and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+. The content of the map will be updated and enriched throughout the landing site selection process. Stay tuned and Follow us on Twitter.
We want this interactive map to get better and evolve until the final decision of the rover landing site. We would love to hear your feedback on utility and usability. It could relate to the narrative, data content, performance or design aspects. Contact us
We acknowledge the ESAC HR Service and the Science Operations Department for having organised and funded this ESAC Trainee Project, part of the ESA Student Placement.
We would like to particularly thank Javier de la Torre, Andrew Hill and the CartoDB team in Madrid for collaborating on this project. Thank you Carla Iriberri, Dani Carrión, Javi Santana, Alejandro Martínez, and Carlos Matallín for your enthusiasm, hospitality, and amazing support!
We also thank the Landing Site Selection Working Group (LSSWG) for supporting this project, in particular: Jorge Vago (ExoMars Project Scientist), and Ernst Hauber (Planetary Geologist at DLR/Berlin).