Application Name: Moon Maps

Description: Photo maps of the moon from Lunar Orbiter and Clementine.

Publisher’s website: Moon Map

Cost: Free (ad-supported)

Version/date reviewed: v.1.1.1  /  8-14-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.3


Android Market (mobile app only)
Android Market (browser)

Application Name: Mars Map

Description: Mars map from the Mars Global Digital Image Mosaic.

Publisher’s website: Atlogis Map Shop

Cost: Free (ad-supported)

Version/date reviewed: v.1.0.7  /  8-14-11

Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.3


Android Market (mobile app only)
Android Market (browser)

Something a bit different – geography but not of the Earth, celestial geography of the Moon and Mars. Both apps are similar in appearance and function, not surprising since they’re both from the same company.


Moon Maps starts off with a whole-moon display; locations of major features and Apollo landing sites are plotted in colored text. As you zoom in, more features are labeled …


Until you get the highest possible zoom level …


The horizontal “stripes” are an artifact of the imaging process. These are images from the Lunar Orbiter probes, shot in the 60s on roll film (pre-solid-state imaging), which was processed on the satellite in lunar orbit, scanned in strips, transmitted to Earth, then pieced together to form a continuous image.


Moon Maps offers an alternative image source from the more-recent Clementine probe, but while the “stripes” are gone, the imagery tends to be darker and of poorer resolution than that from the Lunar Orbiter.


The app comes with a searchable database of lunar features and Apollo landing sites; select a feature, and it will zoom to the correct location.


The Mars Map app operates in a similar fashion, though it uses only one image set, the Mars Global Digital Image Mosaic, generated from Viking Orbiter imagery from the 1970s, carefully selected and heavily processed to make it as uniform in lighting as possible across the surface.


Viking imagery isn’t quite as high in resolution as that from more recent Mars probes, but there’s still lots of interesting features visible …


… like this great shot of the crater at the top of Olympus Mons (aka Olympus Rupes), one of the largest volcanoes in the solar system, shown here at highest map resolution. As with Moon Maps, there’s also a searchable database to help you locate specific objects, and the locations of probes that landed successfully on Mars (e.g. Viking, Pathfinder, Mars, Spirit and Opportunity).

Other thoughts: Can’t complain too much, since the apps are free, but the ads do take up a fair amount of screen space.

Final thoughts: Great apps for astronomy fans and map nerds alike. I hope the imagery gets updated in the near future with higher-resolution data.

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