National Geographic : 1961 May
THE GEOGRAPHIC MEETS A CHALLENGE IN MAPPING SPACE Staff artist John Lothers pondered a problem: how to depict the paths of all 17 man-made satellites circling the earth as 1961 began. Lothers (left) asked the Geographic's spe cialist on cartographic puzzlers, Wellman Cham berlin, for aid. Could he make a model showing the satellites in orbit? Two days later, from his 18th-century home in the Virginia countryside, Chamberlin brought in this strangely festooned globe. Its intermesh ing wire hoops, crisscrossing like balled twine, traced the tracks of all U. S. and Soviet satellites then in the skies. Using the model as his guide, artist Lothers set to work; he added orbits as both nations hurled new rockets into space. His remarkable painting on pages 716-17, up to date as of February 15, 1961, depicts eight een American and five Russian vehicles, includ- ing four that now swing in orbit around the sun. A brilliant cartographic engineer and one of the most inventive map makers of our time, Mr. Chamberlin has thrived on geographic posers for 26 years. The Chamberlin Trimetric Projection, a way to map whole continents with minimum distortion, has been used by cartogra phers the world over. His National Geographic Satellite Tracking Kit, developed for astrophysi cists of the Smithsonian Institution, brings space problems down to earth with a combina tion of maps and transparent overlays. Chamberlin carries out National Geographic aims-to simplify geography, to turn the well worn, complicated formula into a new, uncom plicated tool. You and your friends may share in this exciting approach to the Space Age. Simply use the form below.