Before the first human creates a foot print on Mercurian soil, we are going to have to create maps in order to navigate on the “first rock” from the Sun.

Fortunately it looks as if one scientist is committed to creating accurate maps for NASA (and others) on one of the hottest planets in our Solar system.

(Space Travel) Gaskell, who is based in Altadena, Calif., uses a method called stereo-photo-clinometry, or SPC. Just as stereophonic means sound from different directions, stereo-photo means light from different directions, and clinometry means that slopes, or inclines, are being measured. […]

His newest project, which was recently funded by NASA, will create highly accurate maps of the entire surface of Mercury based on images sent back by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. MESSENGER flew by Mercury in January and is scheduled to go into orbit in 2011, after several passes of Earth, Venus and Mercury.

Despite the fact that the planet’s surface is slowly baked under the brutal rays of the Sun, Mercury could ultimately serve as an interplanetary hub in the future, as its close orbit to our celestial star may grant it easy access to the rest of the worlds in our solar system.

But before we can even think about colonizing Mercury, we are going to need maps (in great detail) in order to turn that barren world into a thriving outpost for humanity.

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