Planetary maps for children

A set of maps illustrating the planetary bodies of the Solar System. Click on the planet or moon to view the maps. Top rows: real-color photos, bottom rows: our maps. (The surface of Venus and Titan is not visible due to the thick cloud cover or fog.)

pluto2kics  plutokicsike  PLUTO AND CHARON (2016)

photo_venusvenus_globeVENUS photo_moonmoon_globeMOON  photo_marsmars_globeMARS 
photo_europaeuropa_globeEUROPA  photo_titantitan_globeTITAN
Note: The aliens depicted on the maps are creatures of imagination. The only known living things In the Solar System can be found on the Earth. Life and traces of life are sought by space probes on Mars, Europa and Titan, with no success so far. Life, as diverse as ours, is likely to be found only on planets in other solar systems in the future, with a surface temperature similar to that on the Earth.

In the framework of the program Europlanet 2012, six Solar System bodies are mapped by planetary scientists and graphic artists on spectacular map pages. This is the first project, in which such detailed, hand-drawn lunar and planetary maps are created for children, in the most spoken languages of Europe. The maps, prepared according to the latest data from space probes, are accompanied by this website where background information can be found in a form understandable for children. The topics covered here are compiled with the help of the children’s questions asked about the maps.
The map series was prepared with the support of ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography. Editor of the series is Henrik Hargitai, planetologist. The graphic artists who created the maps in the visual language of children were selected from the best children’s book illustrators of Hungary: András Baranyai (Venus), Csilla Gévai (Europa), László Herbszt (the Moon), Csilla Kőszeghy (Mars), Panka Pásztohy (TItan) and Dóri Sirály (Io).

Supporters:  Europlanet 2012 Outreach Funding Scheme, Paris Observatory, International Cartographic Association Commission on Planetary Cartography

Published by Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem. Budapest, 2014.

Explanations for the online texts in the descriptions

General descriptions of parameters

  • Body type: Planet or moon. Planets orbit the Sun, moons orbit a planet. One side of moons generally always face its planet (tidally locked).
  • Body composition: Rocky bodies are made of silicate rocks (example Earth), icy bodies are made of rock-H2O ice mixture but their surface usually contains the lighter part of the mixture, ice (example: Europa). In these worlds mountains and plains are made of rock-hard ice. Icy bodies occur only in the colder Outer Solar System.
  • Atmosphere: atmospheres only occur if the gravity (and size) of the body is sufficient to hold gas molecules. It is easier to hold a gas molecule if it is colder.
  • Liquid: liquids may be water in the inner Solar System or methane-ethane-nitrogen in the Outer Solar System. Liquids only occur where there is an atmosphere that produces air pressure. If air pressure is too low, water molecules evaporate/sublimate. If temperature is too low, liquids freeze. If temperature is too high, liquids evaporate. Water may exist underground.
  • Endogenic features: Features produced by forces in the interior of the planet. Volcanism requires molten interior. Heat is provided from planetary formation (impact / accretion heat) or the irreversible decay of radioactive elements. Small bodies cool quicker than large bodies, so volcanism is found only on larger planets. An exception is if the interior is continuously heated. This happens inside moons on elliptic orbits where tidal forces produce interior heat (Io). Tectonic forces produce fractures during earthquakes. This requires movements within the planet, also driven by internal heat. Volcanoes grow upward by adding more lava but may collapse and produce crater-like caldera.
  • Exogenic features: Features produced by processes on the surface or atmosphere. Includes aeolian (wind), fluvial (river), lacustrine (lake), oceanic features and their deposits.
  • Cosmogenic features: Features produced by impacting bodies (smaller craters and larger impact basins). Younger craters have radial rays (produced by ejected materials)
  • Common features: The most common feature is craters. Most craters formed after the Solar System formed and still had many small bodies in space. Craters, however, are rare on surfaces that are resurfaced recently, because resurfacing removes or buries craters. Resurfacing processes include volcanic plains, fluvial erosion and sedimentation, and subduction by plate tectonics.
  • Rare features: Rare features are unique to a planet. They may be remnants of older times.
  • Life limiting parameter: Life should be able to grow and reproduce. Life may be limited by below freezing or above boiling temperatures, lack of atmosphere, lack of water, lack of magnetosphere (too much radiation).

Shapes of geologic features

  • Circular: usually an impact crater, rarely volcanic caldera
  • Linear (straight): negative: tectonic fracture, positive: dune, ridge or mountain
  • Sinuous: river or lava channel
  • Lobate: water rich impact crater ejecta, glacier, landslide
  • Radial: impact crater ray
  • Concentric: impact crater ring


for comparision:
(MAP: use for Earth map or Google map).

  • Body type: planet
  • Body composition: rocky
  • Atmosphere: just right
  • Liquid: water
  • Endogenic features: volcanoes, faults, plate tectonics
  • Exogenic features: rivers, lakes, dunes, floodplains, deltas, glaciers
  • Cosmogenic features: 100+ impact craters, many buried or eroded
  • Common features: oceans, mountains, plains, rivers
  • Rare features: glaciers etc.
  • Life limiting parameter: where it is too dry (no liquid water – deserts), too cold (no liquid water – Antarctica)

Size comparison of the highest mountains on Earth and Olympus Mons on Mars

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