Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “maps”

Astrogeology (USGS)

Astrogeology (USGS) – http://astrogeology.usgs.gov

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What was the path taken by Apollo 14 on the lunar surface?
  • Where can I find a detailed map of Mercury?
  • Where can I get a paper globe of Europa?
  • Where can I find a dataset for the Mars Science Laboratory: Landing Site Selection?

Description:

While the whole of the astrogeology site will be interesting to amateur astronomers, writers will probably make the most use of the maps section at http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/maps. There are maps and in some cases globes of Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, Io, Mars, Mercury, The Moon, Dione, Enceladus, Mimas, Rhea, and Tethys.

Among the Moon maps are “transverse maps” of several of the Apollo missions, which show where the astronauts went and what they did. Mineralogical and geological maps for the Moon are available as well.
The maps menu at the top of the screen has several more options, including the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature (The official source for named craters and other features on moons and planets) and Pilot – Planetary Image Locator Tool (Quick access to images of dozens of solar system bodies.

If you decide you’d like to use some of these maps or alter them to show your colonies, go right ahead. As the website itself says, “Images, maps, data, and information authored or produced by the USGS Astrogeology Science Center are in the public domain.”

Moon Information via the NASA Open Data Portal

Moon Information via the NASA Open Data Portal   https://data.nasa.gov/

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What did the Apollo 12 landing site look like from the surface?
  • What might lunar litter look like?
  • Where can I find geologic maps of the moon?

Description:

Links to imagery and other data about the moon that will help writers accurately describe terrain and lunar locations. Some of the more interesting sets are (Descriptions from website):

  • Lunar Sample Display Locations – A database of every location around the planet holding returned lunar samples from the Apollo missions.
  • Lunar Map Catalog – The Lunar Map Catalog includes various maps of the moon’s surface, including Apollo landing sites; earthside, farside, and polar charts; photography index maps; zone mosaics; shaded relief; topographic; and a geologic atlas.
  • Apollo Surface Panoramas – Apollo Surface Panoramas is a digital library of photographic panoramas that the Apollo astronauts took while exploring the Moon’s surface. These images provide a spectacular boots-on-the-ground view of the lunar landscape. The panoramas are stitched together from individual 70mm Hasselblads
  • Apollo Image Atlas – The Apollo Image Atlas is a comprehensive collection of Apollo-Saturn mission photography. Included are almost 25,000 lunar images, both from orbit and from the moon’s surface, as well as photographs of the earth, astronauts and mission hardware.

Story Idea:

The Lunar Sample Display Location database could be used as a way to set a location for a moon rock heist story.

 

The Whirlwind War: The United States Army in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM

The Whirlwind War: The United States Army in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM – http://www.history.army.mil/books/www/WWINDX.HTM

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What were the disposition of Iraqi forces in September 1990?
  • How were Patriot batteries used against SCUD missiles?
  • What were the specifications of Iraqi and US armament during the First Gulf War?

Description:

This work begins with a general background to Iraq and the Persian Gulf region from WWI to the time the book was written.

Then there are a set of chronological chapters taking the reader through the buildup (Desert Shield) and the actual war (Desert Storm). The narrative section is followed by three appendices on the Patriot missile system and specifications for American and Iraqi equipment used during the war. The online work concludes with lists of tables, maps, charts and illustrations.

U.S. Marine operations in Korea, 1950-1953 (v. 1-5)

U.S. Marine operations in Korea, 1950-1953 (v. 1-5)

(Paper: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/11671005)

(Online: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/api/volumes/oclc/11671005.html v.1-4 fulltext, v.5 search only)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find a map of the Seoul Assault Plan of September 26, 1950?
  • What happened on the last fight on Hill 296?
  • How was the 1st Marine Tank Division organized during the first part of the Korean War?
  • What was the BADGER line?

Description:

From the preface to each of the first four volumes:

Volume I is designed to give the military student and the casual reader an accurate and detailed account of the operations in which Marines of the 1st Provisional Brigade and Marine Air Group 33 participated during the fighting in the Pusan Perimeter, from the date of their landing on 2 August until their withdrawal on 13 September 1950, in preparation for the Inchon landing.

This is the second volume of a series dealing with United States Marine Operations in Korea during the period 2 August 1950 to 27 July 1953. Volume II presents in detail the operations of the 1st Marine Division and the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing as a part of X Corps, USA, during and immediately following the Inchon Landing on 15 September 1950.

This is the third in a series of five volumes dealing with the operations of the United States Marine Corps in Korea during the period 2 August 1950 to 27 July 1953. Volume III presents in detail the operations of the 1st Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing as a part of X Corps, USA, in the Chosin Reservoir campaign. The time covered in this book extends from the administrative landing at Wonsan on 26 October 1950 to the Hungnam evacuation which ended on Christmas Eve.

This is the fourth in a series of five volumes dealing with the operations of United States Marines in Korea during the period 2 August 1950 to 27 July 1953. Volume IV presents in detail the operations of the 1st Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, the former while operating under Eighth Army control and also as part of IX Corps and X Corps, USA, and the latter while controlled by the Fifth Air Force.

The four online volumes have narrative text followed by appendices, an index and a listing of photos, maps and illustrations.

United States Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict, 1 July 1952-27 July 1953

United States Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict, 1 July 1952-27 July 1953, by Robert F. Futrell (1956). 352 pages.

(Paper: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/12234957)

(PDF pt. 1 http://www.afhra.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090529-031.pdf)

(PDF pt. 2 http://www.afhra.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090529-033.pdf)

(PDF pt. 3 http://www.afhra.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090529-034.pdf)

(PDF pt. 4 http://www.afhra.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090529-035.pdf)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Why was the area around Kaesong known as “Holy Land” in the Korean War?
  • Where can I learn more about the Photographic Technical Services during the Korean War?
  • Where can I find a map of North Korean searchlights in 1953?

Description:

Like its predecessor publication, this work ”is conceived as an operational history, with no more consideration for administrative and logistical problems than is necessary to understand the employment of air units in combat.”

In addition to the main text, there is a glossary, footnotes and an index. There is also a list of maps and charts. Index entries for operation and specific mission names are in uppercase.

All three of these volumes ought to provide helpful background in stories featuring military characters during the 1950s.

United States Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict, 1 November 1950-30 June 1952

United States Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict, 1 November 1950-30 June 1952 by Robert F. Futrell (1955). 296 pages. – http://www.afhra.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090601-064.pdf

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I learn more about the operations of the Korean Weather Service?
  • What were the areas of Communist MIG-15 operations?
  • Where can I find a map to North Korean airfields?
  • What was Operation Bullrat?

Description:

Like its predecessor publication, This work ”is conceived as an operational history, with no more consideration for administrative and logistical problems than is necessary to understand the employment of air units in combat.”

In addition to the main text, there is a glossary, footnotes and an index. There is also a list of maps and charts. Index entries for operation and specific mission names are in uppercase.

World War II Maps – Military Situation Maps – 1944-1945 (Library of Congress)

World War II Maps – Military Situation Maps – 1944-1945 (Library of Congress) – http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/maps/wwii/index.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What maps would Eisenhower have referred to?
  • What were the disposition of Allied and Axis forces on _____?
  • Where can I find a detailed description of the Battle of the Bulge?

Description:

From the website:

The World War II Military Situation Maps contains maps showing troop positions beginning on June 6, 1944 to July 26, 1945. Starting with the D-Day Invasion, the maps give daily details on the military campaigns in Western Europe, showing the progress of the Allied Forces as they push towards Germany. Some of the sheets are accompanied by a declassified “G-3 Report” giving detailed information on troop positions for the period 3 Mar. 1945-26 July 1945. These maps and reports were used by the commanders of the United States forces in their evaluation of the campaigns and for planning future strategies. The collection consists of 416 printed maps and 115 reports, the originals of which reside in the Library of Congress’ Geography and Map Division.

This set would be most useful to people who wanted to accurately place military characters during the post D-Day Allied campaign. The collection is browsable by title, subject, place and date. The collection also claims to be browsable by creator, but this option simply gives you the 416 maps produced by Allied Forces. Army Group, 12th. Engineer Section.

The collection also features an interactive essay on the Battle of the Bulge, which may be useful to dramatists of that battle as well as showing how the maps can be used. As these maps were directly published by the US government, they may be freely used in your books. I say this even though the particular Rights and Reproductions page for this collection seems murkier than usual. Consult with an attorney if you want to be really sure, but I’d use these maps in a book if I needed them.

Civil War Maps (Center of Military History)

Civil War Maps – http://www.history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/resmat/civil_war/cw_published_material_maps.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find a year by year description of territory lost by the Confederacy?
  • Where can I see the disposition of Union forces during the Peninsula Campaign of May-July 1862?
  • Where can I see the progress of General Sherman’s march to Atlanta?

Description:

Links to maps produced by the Center of Military History about the American Civil War. The available maps are:

  • The Civil War 1861-1865
  • The Civil War Areas of Operation
  • The Eastern Theater Major Battles 1861-1865
  • First Battle of Bull Run 16-21 July 1861
  • Jackson’s Valley Campaign Eastern Theater, March to June 1862
  • Battle of Shiloh, 06 April 1862
  • Peninsula Campaign, May to June 1862
  • Battle of Antietam, 17 September 1862
  • Battle of Fredericksburg, 13 December 1862
  • The Battle of Stones River, 31 December 1862
  • The Vicksburg Campaign, March to July 1863
  • Battle of Chancellorsville, 1-6 May 1863
  • Battle of Gettysburg, 1-3 July 1863
  • Battles Near Chattanooga, September to November 1863
  • Drive to Atlanta 04 May to 02 September 1864
  • Wilderness to Petersburg, May 1864 to April 1865

National Atlas Geology

UPDATE 10/5/2014 – The National Atlas ceased to be updated as of 9/30/2014. A copy from 9/24/2014 lives on in the Internet Archive. 

National Atlas Geology – https://wayback.archive-it.org/4416/20140919123233/http://nationalatlas.gov/geology.html

Representative Questions This Resource Can Answer:

  • Is there more than one continental divide?
  • Outside of Appalachia, where are America’s coal fields?
  • Where are potentially active volcanoes in California?

Description:

The Geology section of the larger National Atlas is a mix of overview articles and of Map Maker samples. Click on on any of the samples in the upper right hand of your screen and then check out the map layers tab. My favorite layer is the “Impact Structures” map which shows the parts of the United States that appear to have been hit from outer space. Another fun layer is the Earthquakes 1568 – 2009 layer. It clearly shows that neither North Dakota nor Iowa has had an earthquake since 1568. If your story takes place there, you might need secret nuclear testing or Godzilla to justify an earthquake.

Other map layers of note include:

  • Coal Fields
  • Continental Divide
  • Earthquakes 1568 – 2009
  • Calderas
  • Generalized Glacial Limits
  • Metamorphic Areas
  • Karst – Engineering Aspects
  • Subsidence
  • Landslides – Costly Events
  • Landslides – Costly Regional Events
  • Landslide Incidence and Susceptibility

There are also maps of magnetic fields available, but I’m honestly not sure how to interpret them or how you might work them into a story.

In the overview articles, pay attention to Continental Divides in North Dakota and North America. This article notes that the “Great Divide” of the Rocky Mountains is only one of several continental divides. One of the continental divides is on very flat ground in North Dakota. For the explanation, see the article.

Search/Use Tip:

Sometimes you can successfully mix layers on Map Maker. Try viewing Landslide incidence and susceptibility, then coal fields and then put them together. Notice how the Appalachian coal fields overlap almost exactly with one of the highest risks of landslides in the country? That sounds like a hard life.

National Atlas Biology

UPDATE 10/5/2014 – The National Atlas ceased to be updated as of 9/30/2014. A copy from 9/24/2014 lives on in the Internet Archive.

National Atlas Biology – https://wayback.archive-it.org/4416/20140919123143/http://nationalatlas.gov/biology.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where are bats found in the United States?
  • Are there forests in Northern Alaska?

Description:

The Biology section of the National Atlas actually covers animals as well as plants. Like other sections of the National Atlas, it has overview articles and links to Map Maker samples. The overview articles include information about zebra mussels and africanized honey bees (aka killer bees.)

Clicking on one of the Map Maker samples, such as “Forest Cover Types”, allows you to access a number of other map layers including:

  • Amphibian Distributions (by type)
  • Bat Range (by type)
  • Breeding Bird Survey Routes
  • Butterfly Distributions (overall and by species)
  • Ecoregions
  • Forest Cover Types
  • Invasive species
  • Moth Distribution (overall and by species)
  • Wildland/Urban interface (under National Fire Plan)
  • Vegetation growth (average and peak)
  • Wildlife mortality

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