Best of the Blogs 2016: the spatial year in review  

By on 20 December, 2016

Spatial Source looks back on the best of 12 months of Best of the Blogs. best-of-the-blogs-yearly-2016

This month Star Wars: Rogue One introduces us to a host of possible new planets. NASA looked to answer whether such planets could really be out there. You may figure that desert, ocean or ice planets like Tatooine, Scarif and Hoth are certainly possibilities. But you may not have thought it could lead us to rainbow-coloured plant life, double sunsets or dual-rainbows. As NASA shows, finding such planets could even bring us one step closer to finding life outside our own galaxy.

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If like me, you’ve spent countless hours of your life sitting at traffic lights watching almost no cars pass through, you may have wondered if there is a better solution then the stop/go model. Well, perhaps very soon there will be. In general humans aren’t aware enough, quick enough, or kind enough to allow for free flowing traffic, however autonomous cars may soon be our saviour. Spectrum IEEE’s article shows how efficient (and terrifying) our modern intersections might be, transforming what we know as traffic lights into light traffic.



The internet’s fascination with satellite data was taken to new heights this year thanks to a 15-year-old Canadian. When William Gadoury claimed to have discovered an ancient Mayan city in Mexico by studying star maps and satellite imagery, internet fame quickly ensued. However, since then the archaeological community have spoken out to the likes of VICE and National Geographic to share their extreme doubts in his findings. The jury is still out on whether he has found a Mayan city or a much more recently abandoned crop, but perhaps a visit to the site or just some analysis of historical imagery will soon reveal the truth.



Believe it or not, this image isn’t the aerial view of a sodden marshland. In fact it’s something many orders of magnitude smaller. The HERE blog created the quiz, “Can you guess what these map like objects are?” and I bet you’ll find yourself getting most of the answers wrong.



How do you map a planet that no human has stepped foot on? When it comes to cartography, a featureless planet like Mars is the ultimate challenge. With little more than craters, rocks and dust, the first humans on mars will need a map suitable for planning, navigating and survival in an alien terrain – a map that will save lives. That’s why The International Cartographic Association Commission on Planetary Cartography (or PlanetCarto for short) compiled the best cartographic visions of Mars to date.



SpaceX made history this year when its Falcon 9 rocket stuck its first successful landing on a drone ship. Elon Musk celebrated this with tweet of the footage accompanied by T-Pain and Lonely Islands song “I’m on a Boat (Motherf***er)”. Musk later deleted the tweet, but thankfully Tech Insider saved it for our enjoyment.



If you thought drones were exciting, what about the fact that you can now control them with your mind? As Quartz have shown, not only can you control a drone using your brain, but you can even race them. Not only that, researchers later showed from Arizona State University shown you can even control multiple drones using your brains are currently doing. Sensors & Systems showed that soon drone mapping may involve nothing more than sitting back and thinking about it.



If you are a Game of Thrones fan, and chances are that of course you are, you might have thought that Season 6 contained some very impressive and almost impossible logistical feats. Chief among them, the hyperspace-speed journey shown above of the Greyjoy siblings to Meereen. The Verge was not convinced of the possibility of such journeys, so they went ahead and mapped them all and rated how realistic each characters journey has been. Because after all, Game of Thrones, with its dragons, giants and white walkers is the most realistic show out there.



Autodesk teamed up with KIDmob workshop to give six kids with missing upper-limbs the chance to completely re-imagine life by asking “What happens if we address a missing limb as a blank canvas rather than a disability?” 3ders showed how with 3D printing technology kids can design their own Superhero Cyborgs prosthetic arms, including a detachable bow and arrow, an elbow-activated water gun and a five-nozzle glitter shooter (as shown in the above image).



New data-visualisation project Migrations in Motion charts how some 3,000 species of birds, mammals, and amphibians are likely to migrate in response to rising sea levels and climate change. WIRED explains how researchers borrowed from electric circuit theory to connect the species’ current habitats to future ones.

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