Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Maps of the Week

There were two real stand-out maps this week, NASA's 3d map of the Vesta asteroid and Refugee Republic's map of Domiz Refugee Camp.

Domiz Refugee Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan was established in April 2012 to host Syrian Kurds. The camp was originally built to house 38,135 people. It is currently home to 57,953 refugees. As the number of refugees has grown the camp has gradually transformed from a temporary refuge into a makeshift town,

Refugee Republic has created an online documentary about the camp, using the Leaflet.js mapping platform to turn a hand drawn map into a fully interactive map. You can click on the colored roads and arrows on the map to learn more about life in Domiz Camp. The tour includes videos of the camp, information on how the camp and shelters were constructed and the stories of some of the refugees now living in Domiz Camp.

In 2011 the DAWN spacecraft visited Vesta to collect data about this important asteroid. You can now explore Vesta yourself using NASA's Digital Model of Asteroid Vesta.

Vesta is one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt, with a mean diameter of 525 kilometres. The Digital Model of Asteroid Vesta allows you to view the asteroid as a 2d or 3d map. The map itself seems to combine an Esri map with a Cesium WebGL globe.

The 3d map includes a number of data overlays which provide different views of the mineral make-up of Vesta. The 2d map view includes a global (equirectangular) view of Vesta, a north pole view and a south pole view. It also includes a number of tools which allow you to measure distance on Vesta and to view elevation profiles (especially handy if you want to visualize the depth of Vesta's craters).

One of the joys of maps is that they allow you to explore places that you might never visit in real-life. Having already explored an asteroid and a refugee camp why not also take a tour of Robben Island. Google has released Street View imagery for Robben Island in South Africa.

Robben Island is most famous as the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars. The best way to explore the new Street View imagery is on the Robben Island Museum page on Google's Cultural Institute website. The Robben Island Museum entry includes a guided tour of the prison by former political prisoners. The Robben Island Prison Tour is a guided tour of the prison using the new Google Maps Street View imagery and narration from former political prisoner, Vusumsi Mcongo.

The tour includes the view prisoners would have on arriving at the island, a view from inside a guard tower, the hospital ward, the exercise yard and Nelson Mandela's own 2m x 2m cell. Most of these Street View scenes are accompanied by videos in which Vusumsi Mcongo explains what life was like as a prisoner on Robben Island.

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