Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Martian Joy-Plot Maker

Last week the wonderful Peak Map was released. Peak Map is a fantastic interactive map which can create a joy-plot map for any location on Earth. Now, thanks to Peaks on Mars, we can make our very own joy-plot maps of Mars.

Peaks on Mars is an elevation map of Mars. The map uses a NASA digital elevation model to show the relative height and depth of Mars' canyons, mountains and canyons. It also includes the option to create a joy-plot map of any location on Mars. To create your own joy-plot map of Mars you just need to center Peaks on Mars on any location on the red planet and the map will automatically create a very artistic elevation profile of your chosen location.

Joy-plots (or ridgeline plots as they are sometimes called) are inspired by Joy Division's famous album cover for their Unknown Pleasures record. The Peter Saville designed cover for Unknown Pleasures has become a much loved iconic image. His cover design was inspired by a visualization of the radio waves emitted by a pulsar, which was published in the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. In data science a visualization which is inspired by this radio waves graph is often called a 'joy-plot' in acknowledgement of Saville's iconic album cover for Unknown Pleasures.

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