Spacecraft Will Test Satnav Reception from Lunar Orbit

More on the astonishing idea that Earth-orbiting GNSS satellites can be used for navigation at the Moon. The European Space Agency reports that among the instruments carried by the upcoming Lunar Pathfinder commercial mission will be a 1.4 kg satnav receiver that will test its ability to receive GPS and Galileo signals from lunar orbit. “Satnav position fixes from the receiver will be compared with conventional radio ranging carried out using Lunar Pathfinder’s X-band transmitter as well as laser ranging performed using a retroreflector contributed by NASA and developed by the KBR company.” Lunar Pathfinder is currently scheduled to launch in 2024.

Previously: Many Moon MapsCan GPS Be Used on the Moon?

The Quarantine Atlas

Book cover: The Quarantine AtlasOut today from Black Dog & Leventhal: The Quarantine Atlas, a book-length distillation of CityLab’s COVID-19 mapping project, in which they solicited readers’ hand-drawn maps of life under lockdown, the year 2020 in general, and how life has been changed by the pandemic. They received more than 400 submissions; 65 of those maps, plus essays by divers hands, are included in the book.

To mark The Quarantine Atlas’s release, editor Laura Bliss has a piece in Smithsonian adapted from the book’s introduction and generously illustrated with maps. Bloomberg, which absorbed CityLab a while back, features twelve quarantine maps from the various calls for submissions. Update: Plus an adaptation of David Dudley’s foreword.


Book cover: The Quarantine AtlasThe Quarantine Atlas
by Laura Bliss
Black Dog & Leventhal, 19 Apr 2022
Amazon (Canada, UK) | Apple Books | Bookshop

Google Didn’t Stop Obscuring Imagery of Russian Military Sites Because the Imagery Hadn’t Been Obscured in the First Place

Yesterday, reports that Google Maps had stopped obscuring satellite imagery of sensitive Russian military facilities spread like wildfire across Twitter. Only there was no official announcement from Google saying they’d done so, and while Ukrainian Twitter was seriously running with it, I wanted to see some confirmation from the mapping side. In the event, an update to Ars Technica’s story says that Google hadn’t stopped blurring the imagery—the imagery hadn’t been blurred in the first place. “A Google spokesperson told Ars that the company hasn’t changed anything with regard to blurring out sensitive sites in Russia, so perhaps none of us were looking closely until now.”

Thoughts About Transit Fantasy Maps

Reece Martin of RMTransit has some thoughts about transit fantasy maps. These are maps that imagine a different transit network for a city, usually greatly expanded (often to the point of implausibility, with lines having nothing to do with where demand actually is or where available transit corridors exist). Reece’s main concern is that the wishful thinking of some of these maps can get in the way of advocating for better transit, but that presupposes that anyone is taking these these maps seriously; this is more his explanation of why he doesn’t talk about them on his channel than anything else.

(I’m reminded of similar fantasy intercity train network maps that expand or restore service to places that don’t have the demand—or the tracks—any more.)

Previously: Why Transit Maps Mislead.

The Geographical Names Board of Canada at 125

The Geographical Names Board of Canada is celebrating its 125th anniversary. In Canada the provinces (since 1961) and territories (since 1984) do most of the actual naming (exceptions include Indian reserves, military reserves and national parks, which are done jointly by the relevant federal department and the province). What, then, does the Board do? From the Board’s about page:

Among today’s roles of the GNBC as a national coordinating body are the development of standard policies for the treatment of names and terminology, the promotion of the use of official names, and the encouragement of the development of international standards in cooperation with the United Nations and other national authorities responsible for naming policies and practices.

Coordinating, development, promotion, encouragement: as a former government employee, I’m familiar with those, erm, terms of art. But in a country with literally two major rivers named Churchill, a little coordination is not necessarily just an Important Canadian Government Initiative, if you follow me.

2022 French Presidential Election (First Round)

Le Monde’s map of the first round of the 2022 French presidential electionSome maps showing the results of the first round of France’s 2022 presidential election. Le Monde’s interactive map shows the winner by commune: it has all the caveats you’d expect from a geographical map (the cities have a lot of voters but not much territory, making Le Pen’s rural support look more impressive). Bloomberg’s maps are behind a paywall: see this Twitter thread instead, which has maps of the regional concentrations of each candidate’s support. (With a dozen candidates on the ballot, it’s hard to get a true picture from a single map.) Also on Twitter, Dominic Royé’s dasymetric maps of the results [Maps Mania].

Previously: Mapping the 2017 French Presidential Election (First Round).

Mapping Where the Earth Will Become Uninhabitable

Screenshot of an interactive globe showing where climate change will make the Earth uninhabitable, from the Berliner Morgenpost.
Berliner Morgenpost (screenshot)

An interactive globe from the Berliner Morgenpost shows where the Earth is predicted to become uninhabitable by 2100, based on climate models that assume global warming of 2.5-3°C by that date. The globe starts with a vertical map of population, then uses heat maps to indicate where the impacts of heat, drought, sea level rise and increased tropical cyclones will be felt. The key point of this visualization is the impact on population: how many, not just where. In German and English. [Maps Mania]

The Fitz Globe

Fitz Globe (Library of Congress)Last month on the Library of Congress’s map blog, Worlds Revealed, Julie Stoner shared the story of an educational globe with a unique mount invented by author and teacher Ellen Eliza Fitz. “While working as a governess, Fitz imagined a new globe mounting technique, as seen in the globe above, that would facilitate students’ understanding of the Earth’s daily rotation and annual revolution. In 1875, she was granted a patent for her invention. A copy of the patent with a sketch of the design, which can be seen below, is held in the Ellen Eliza Fitz papers at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts.” Read the rest at Worlds Revealed.

Bellerby’s Globe for Ukraine

Petrkykivka globe by Bellerby & Co
Bellerby & Co.

Bespoke globemaker Bellerby and Company is putting the finishing touches on a one-of-a-kind globe that will be auctioned to raise funds for the defence and rebuilding of Ukraine. “One of our talented painters, Anastasiya (Nastia), has been in the company close to 5 years. She is hand painting traditional Ukrainian folk art directly on to this unique and special globe.” The globe is inspired by Petrykivka painting. More at their Instagram post.

The Design Choices Behind Maps of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

In Geographical magazine, Doug Specht and Alexander Kent examine some of the design choices made by media organizations mapping the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Cartographic design choices over colour, layout, lettering and symbology, for example, all influence our attitudes and feelings towards the war in Ukraine. […] [B]y understanding how these choices (e.g., regarding the selection and classification of features as well as their colour and symbology) mask the nuances of reality, we can be better at reading the stories they are trying to tell.”

Relatedly, in a Twitter thread, Le Monde’s cartographic team explores the decisions behind one of their print maps (in French).

Previously: How Maps of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine Can Mislead; Mapping the Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Roundup #3.

Google Maps Updates Announced

Updates to Google Maps announced today include estimated prices for toll roads as well as increased navigation detail. “You’ll soon see traffic lights and stop signs along your route, along with enhanced details like building outlines and areas of interest. And, in select cities, you’ll see even more detailed information, like the shape and width of a road, including medians and islands–you can better understand where you are, and help decrease the odds of making last-minute lane changes or missing a turn.” There are also updates specific to the Apple platform: iPhone and iPad users will get new widgets, Siri and Spotlight integration, and Apple Watch support. The updates will be rolling out gradually: some in a few weeks, some later this summer.

Submarine Cable Map 2022

Submarine Cable Map 2022 (TeleGeography)

TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map 2022 displays the world’s current undersea cable network, plus those under construction; its web page takes you through new projects region by region. It’s available for download (scroll to the bottom of the page) and purchase (though at $250 the paper version is just a bit pricey). [Maps Mania]

Previously: Undersea Cable Maps; Greg’s Cable Map.

Maps and Literature Updates: Two Exhibitions and an Article

The Osher’s fantasy map exhibition, North of Nowhere, West of the Moon: Myth, Fiction, and Fantasy in Maps, is now online—though a number of the exhibition’s maps are unavailable to view, I’m guessing for copyright reasons1 (previously).

Last month, MapLab’s Laura Bliss interviewed the Huntington’s curator of literary collections, Karla Nielsen, about the Huntington’s Mapping Fiction exhibition (previously).

The text of my article “Maps in Science Fiction” is now available online (previously).

Mapping Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time has been in the news again, with the U.S. Senate voting to make it permanent year-round. So it’s worth looking at maps that explore the impact of standard time and daylight saving time, and time zones in general, on the time of sunrise and sunset. And as far as the United States is concerned, that means looking at some maps by Andy Woodruff, who’s been exploring this question since at least this 2015 blog post. Which was supplanted in 2019 by this so-called gripe assistant tool to help you quantify your whining about the biannual change.

Map of optimal time zone boundaries (Andy Woodruff)
Andy Woodruff, Axis Maps (Twitter)

Finally, last week Andy produced the above infographic to illustrate your ideal time zone based on when you think your ideal sunrise and sunset is.

See also CityLab’s coverage (now subscriber-only), which is pretty Woodruff-heavy.