To map is to investigate. There is no purposeless map and even the most specific purposes are usually matched with an even more specific map. However, what lies in between establishes the connection. Maps serve to imagine incomprehensible, often distant realities by scaling them to the size of a comprehensible, simplified model that already contains all the plans and actions that are soon to be carried out in the field. The purpose of one of its most versatile and abstracted forms, the aerial perspective, was always to explore, formalise and assess distant terrain from an unobstructed view in order to plan and conduct subsequent movements of troops, goods or passenger transportation. While it’s eminently suitable to create and establish relations between two or more points on the surface and offers a high level of detail, it’s often implied and even more so wrongly expected to truthfully imagine a ground view.
NASA and ESA conducted several missions to Mars to obtain detailed aerial maps of the planet as a crucial requirement for further explorations to take meteorological, physical and chemical measurements. Their latest explorations brought rovers to the ground, but the ultimate goal remains to deploy a manned mission to the surface of the red planet. Future landing sites are already explored and determined, however, we have a rather limited understanding what the first astronauts will encounter there. The desire to know what they will see once they step out of their shuttle is an important incentive to create more and more photo material. Space agencies release many of these photos to share with professionals and educate the public, sometimes even constructing artificial oblique perspectives that are intended to provide a faithful view of the terrain. Instead, they convey skewed images of non-existing, thus inexplorable landscapes.
Digital elevation models and satellite imagery of points of interest on Mars, such as future landing sites or geological formations, were transformed to create false views from a ground perspective.