SuperGPS Promises Ten-Centimetre Accuracy

It seems to be steam engine time for GPS alternatives. We’ve already seen two proposals that suggest using constellations of low-flying satellites to provide greater accuracy and more resilience against signal blocking than GPS and other orbital navigation systems can provide. Now a research team in the Netherlands is developing a project called SuperGPS, which promises decimetre-level (10 cm) accuracy through the use of terrestrial transmitters connected to a fibre-optic network. They’ve built a working prototype, and published the results in Nature. More at the TU Delft news release.

Previously: Starlink as GPS Alternative; ESA Considering Low-Orbit Satellites to Improve Galileo System.

New Book About Emma Hart Willard

Book cover: Emma Willard: Maps of HistoryA book about the work of Emma Hart Willard (1787-1870) is coming out this month from Visionary Press. The book, Emma Willard: Maps of History, includes an essay by Susan Schulten (who also edited the book) along with reproductions of Willard’s maps, atlases and time charts (for example, the 1828 set of maps that accompanied her History of the United States, or Republic of America), which proved hugely influential in terms of using maps in pedagogy, as well as historical maps and graphical depictions of time. The book is part of a series, Information Graphic Visionaries, that was the subject of a successful Kickstarter last year. Outside of that crowdfunding campaign, the book can be ordered from the publisher for $95 (it’s on sale right now for $85). [Matthew Edney]

Previously: Emma Willard’s History of the United States; Women in Cartography (Part 3).

New Map Exhibition in Leiden

“When looking at maps, we should always be mindful of the question: Who is mapping what and for what purpose?” A new exhibition at the Museum Volkskunde in Leiden, in collaboration with Leiden University Libraries, Kaarten: navigeren en manipuleren [Maps: Navigating and Manipulating], which opened last month, gathers together contemporary art and antique maps from their respective collections to explore the question of truth and perspective in maps. One example: a “serio-comic map” from the Crimean war (in Dutch). Another video, also in Dutch. Runs until 29 October 2023. Tickets 15€ or less.

Marie Tharp as Google Doodle

Google Doodle of Marie Tharp (screenshot)

Marie Tharp is the subject of today’s Google Doodle, with an interactive narration of her life story. That story—how Tharp’s pioneering work mapping the ocean floor helped prove the theory of continental drift—is familiar to long-time readers of this blog: this is the 12th post I’ve made about the legendary cartographer. But someone is going to be one of today’s lucky 10,000 because of this, and that’s not a bad thing.

Ortelius was a Google Doodle in May 2018.

Extent of Tongan Eruption Revealed by New Seafloor Maps

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai 3D bathymetry map
NIWA/Nippon Foundation TESMaP

Scientists have now mapped the seafloor around the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai volcano, and as a result we have learned just how massive the January 2022 eruption was. By comparing their soundings with 2017 data, they determined that at least 9.5 km3 of material was discharged. Debris was found 80 km from the volcano, and the volcano’s caldera has been replaced by a cavern 850 m deep. More from the NIWA media release and from ABC (Australia).

Previously: Remotely Operated Vessel Maps Tonga Caldera.

New Osher Exhibition on Mapping New England’s Textile Industry

Title image for Industry, Wealth and Labor exhibition (Osher Maps Library)

The Osher Map Library’s latest physical exhibition, Industry, Wealth, and Labor: Mapping New England’s Textile Industry, opened last Thursday. “Inspired by the map library’s recent acquisition of a collection of textile mill insurance plans and historic maps from the American Textile History Museum, this exhibition addresses the temporal, geographic, and demographic components of New England’s cotton textile industry from the early 19th century until the middle of the 20th century.” Free admission; runs until 30 June 2023.

A Mastodon Update

The Map Room’s Mastodon presence has moved to @maproomblog@mapstodon.space. It just seemed more sensible to be on an instance that focused on the mapping and geospatial community. (By the way, mapstodon.space’s admin has a Patreon to cover the hosting costs: running a Mastodon instance is rather more expensive than running a website.)

Previously: Mastodon for Mappers; The Map Room on Mastodon.

Will Using Fuller’s Projection Get You in Trouble?

Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map: is the projection it uses patented, trademarked or copyrighted to the extent that you have to pay a licencing fee or face a lawsuit? Daniel Huffman digs into this very question, which apparently has been circulating around the cartographic world for some time. “Here’s the summary of what I’ve concluded: if you don’t pay a license fee before you publish a map that uses the Fuller projection, you may find yourself hearing from the projection’s ‘owner.’ At the same time, I don’t think that the owner (the Buckminster Fuller Institute) has any rights that would actually hold up in court.”

Immersive View and the Death of Consumer Maps

Pointing to Google Maps and Apple Maps, with their extensive street-level and flyover imagery, James Killick believes that maps for the consumer are moving away from symbolic representation and toward creating digital models of the real world that, he says, are not maps. “It’s all part of a trend, a downward trend in my opinion, that will result demise of consumer maps. Contrary to Beck’s approach to distill reality into its essential essence we’re moving in the opposite direction. [¶] We are instead on a path to the dreaded metaverse, a virtual world where we should all be thankful and glad to wander around as legless avatars with the aspirational goal of reaching social media nirvana. I don’t know about you, but, ugh.” [Lat × Long]

Mark Ovenden’s YouTube Channel Begins with a Look at the Madrid Metro

Mark Ovenden has launched a YouTube channel focusing on transit map design—which is what you’d expect from the author of Transit Maps of the World (along with other books on transit system design and transport maps: he is by no means a stranger to this blog). It launches today with its first episode, an on-the-ground look at the history of the Madrid metro system and its maps.

Mastodon for Mappers

There is now a Mastodon instance—mapstodon.space—for map and geospatial professionals and enthusiasts. If it had been up and running when I started The Map Room’s Mastodon account (previously), I might have signed up for it there. (Update Nov. 20: In the end, I’ve moved there: @maproomblog@mapstodon.space.)

It doesn’t matter that much which instance you sign up at (you can connect to any other Mastodon account on any other instance, unless your instance blocks that other instance, which happens when, for example, an instance is full of racist trolls), but instances have local feeds, which is nice when your instance is full of people who share your interests. I’ve already found several familiar faces and/or institutions at mapstodon.space.

Mapping the Shoreline of an Ancient Martian Ocean

3D map showing evidence of ancient Martian shoreline
Benjamin Cardenas/Penn State (Creative Commons)

“A recently released set of topography maps provides new evidence for an ancient northern ocean on Mars. The maps offer the strongest case yet that the planet once experienced sea-level rise consistent with an extended warm and wet climate, not the harsh, frozen landscape that exists today.” Press release, video, article (JGR Planets). [Universe Today]

ESA Considering Low-Orbit Satellites to Improve Galileo System

The idea of using low-earth-orbit satellites to provide greater GPS/GNSS accuracy isn’t limited to commandeering the Starlink constellation. The European Space Agency is exploring the idea of using low-flying satellites to increase Galileo’s accuracy and robustness: make it possible to use indoors, make it more resistant to jamming and interference, and enable positioning at the centimetre level. They’re planning an in-orbit demonstration of around six satellites to test the proposition. The satellites would supplement the existing Galileo constellation rather than replace it: for one thing, they would rely on the Galileo satellites’ atomic clocks, which would allow the low-flying satellites to be an order of magnitude smaller in size. [Universe Today]