New Map of the Pluto system for children

Wednesday, July 5
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Exhibit Hall C

Cartography is a powerful tool in the scientific visualization and communication of spatial data. Cartographic visualization for children requires special methods. Although almost all known solid surface bodies in the Solar System have been mapped in detail during the last more than 5 decades, books and publications that target children, tweens and teens never include any of the cartographic results of these missions. We have developed a series of large size planetary maps with the collaboration of planetary scientists, cartographers and graphic artists. The maps are based on photomosaics and DTMs that were redrawn as artwork. This process necessarily involved generalization, interpretation and transformation into the visual language that can be understood by children.

In the first project, we selected six planetary bodies (Venus, the Moon, Mars, Io, Europa and Titan) and invited six illustrators of childrens’ books. Although the overall structure of the maps looks similar, the visual approach was significantly different. An important addition was that the maps contained a narrative: different characters – astronauts or “alien-like life forms” – interacted with the surface. The map contents were translated into 11 languages and published online at
Here we report the new addition to the series. Following the New Horizons’ Pluto flyby we have started working on a map that, unlike the others, depicts a planetary system, not just one body. Since only one hemisphere was imaged in high resolution, this map is showing the encounter hemispheres of Pluto and Charon. Projected high-resolution image mosaics with informal nomenclature were provided by the New Horizons Team. The graphic artist is Adrienn Gyöngyösi. As the theme for nomenclature is deities of the underworld, we have decided to apply the visual theme of Halloween to the map. The map displays all objects of the Pluto system. The cartographic representation of Pluto and Charon is accurate, both showing albedo, color and topographic differences, and uses Lambert projection.
The map reflects the dual nature of planetary cartography - the nomenclature that represents human culture, and the representation of the physical surface - but both appear in the same visual language. Based on real science, it brings children into a fictional journey that brings life to the names in the (informal) nomenclature, whose characters indeed interact with the surface features that has their names. Thus, the role of the map is doubly educational: it informs the readers about the physical characteristics of the Pluto system but also about mythology, the Pluto discovery, and space research and extends the existing theme to a coherent "demonic" world that is familiar to the children from Halloween.
Several of the Charon informal names are using science fiction themed proprietary names. We were not able to receive permissions to depict these names on the map which signals problems with the use of proprietary names for scientific purposes that IAU should consider.
The map was produced in vectorgraphic technique (Adobe Illustrator) which enables the production of future interactive versions.

Henrik I. Hargitai

Postdoctoral Researcher
NASA Ames Research Center

Henrik I. Hargitai (Ph.D., 2007) is a planetary geomorphologist and media historian. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Ames Research Center. He taught planetary geomorphology, planetary cartography, typography, and media history as a senior lecturer at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary since 2002. He has a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences and Philosophy (Aesthetics). His study fields include planetary cartography, fluvial geomorphology, and the history and localization of planetary nomenclature. He participated in two Mars Desert Research Station simulations. He is the chair of the ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography.


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Adrienn Gyöngyösi

Graphic Designer, Children's Book Illustrator

She is a Hungarian Childrens'book illustrator. She finished her studies at the Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design as a graphic designer in 2004 in Budapest.
She has been working as a freelance illustrator for several children’s book publishers since then and illustrated many picture books from classic tales to contemporary children’s novels.


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New Map of the Pluto system for children


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