Planetary geological mapping: a comprehensive geologic tool in the upcoming Solar System exploration

Molina, A., López, I., De Pablo, M. A. 2017. Planetary geological mapping: a comprehensive geologic tool in the upcoming Solar System exploration. Mapas de la Naturaleza, Memorias de la Real Sociedad Espanola de Historia Natural 14, 395-405.

The maps of other planetary bodies in the Solar Systems have evolved as much as our knowledge about them in the last decades. The data diversity and quality increase, together with the availability of detailed topography and images from a wide spectral range, rising in coverage and resolution, allowed the researchers to understand better the different planetary surfaces. That caused an evolution in the mapping process as well. The popularity of the Geographic Information Systems together with the free distribution of planetary data enabled new ways of showing geologic interpretations on a map. However, dating materials and processes are still challenging, and only Moon sample returns have been achieved yet. For the other bodies, crater statistics and other observations provide information to estimate relative dating. The technology and exploration advances, however, are decreasing the differences between planetary and terrestrial geological mapping each day. Now, sophisticated instrumentation onboard vehicles provide enough information to the planetary geologists to develop geologic maps as detailed as on Earth, and it is only a matter of time that differentiate between the geological mapping on our home planet and others will be no longer necessary.

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