Surveying on Mars | Corona, CA

June 2, 2020 | Kellee Ireland

Here on this very website, we describe surveying as, “the measurement and mapping of our surrounding environment using mathematics, specialized technology and equipment”.

But where does that leave alien environments?

The surveyors of yesteryear were explorers of a kind, discovering foreign lands and mapping them as they went. Those documents proved invaluable records of our past geographical discoveries.

As humanity reaches out to the cosmos, surveying techniques once again are called upon to mark our place in the universe. What is surveying’s role in exploring Mars?

Surveying the next frontier

Since the 1950s, humanity has made strides to get closer to Mars. There were orbiter fly-bys that collected photographs and images in the 1960s. Then in 1976, the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully sent their Viking 1 and Viking 2 orbiters to Mars, with a lander making Earth’s first touchdown on the planet’s surface. Since that day, we’ve made use of increasingly sophisticated technology in an effort to truly understand Mars.

And to understand it, first we have to map it.

Just like satellites aid modern surveyors on Earth, satellites could be used to map the surface of Mars. A particularly important step in Martian exploration was the successful launch of the Mars Global Surveyor in 1996.

The Mars Global Surveyor was designed to scan and map the entire surface of the planet from orbit. The high-resolution images it harvested showed us the highest peaks and the deepest ravines of Mars’ surface. In time, the entire planet’s surface was scanned.

The mission was to last a full decade. In this time, the Mars Global Surveyor even managed to observe the formation of new gullies, boulder tracks and craters. Meanwhile, there were ground units hitting Mars’ surface to gather additional geographic data: the Mars Exploration Rover vehicles Spirit and Opportunity spent a collective 8,000+ days roaming the planet’s surface.

One of the most recent and most exciting tools in the Mars exploration arsenal is NASA’s InSight lander.

InSight stands for Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. The lander is the first mission dedicated to looking deep beneath the surface of the planet, and it does this using technology similar to that which surveyors use here on Earth.

Researcher Katarina Miljkovic was one of several Australians who collaborted on InSight. Talking to Spatial Source, she explained, “InSight is different to previous Mars missions. It is not a rover or an orbiter. It is a geophysical station to be placed on the surface with passive instruments that will sense the interior structure. The aim is to understand how Mars has formed, how it differentiated and how much is it different to our planet.”

It’s thanks to NASA’s InSight lander mission that we now know that Mars experiences quakes just like Earth. We also now have a much better understanding of Mars’ interior structure and its evolution – and some of its magnetic anomolies. This is information that will be of great use in the future.

What if there was life on Mars?

But what of that future? What might traditional surveying look like on Mars if we were to ever step onto the planet’s surface?

Historically, Earth-bound surveying made use of the compass as a standard tool. With technological advances that is seldom still the case; all the same, it is worth noting the unusual magnetic activity on Mars that was noted above will impact how we might approach surveying and geodesy,

Mars has no global general magnetic field – though its pockets of magnetic rock and other magnetic anomalies would have to be accounted for by experts when they develop Martian surveying equipment.

Modern surveyors often make use of the Global Navigation Satellite System, and it is clear that something similar would be required when surveying on Mars.

What does the future hold?

It’s an intriguing prospect to think about how surveyors might adapt to entirely different planet’s environment. Certainly, it’s a much bigger leap than surveyors of the past who have just had to contend with new countries, or continents.

All we can know for certain is that technology will keep advancing, and that will impact what surveyors can achieve – both on this planet and the next.

To find out more about surveying on Mars, please contact us at (800) CALVADA or visit www.calvada.com.

Calvada proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.

Hand Signals Used in Land Surveying | Corona, CA

There are times on a jobsite when crew members may be too far away from one another to hear each other. In these situations, Land surveyors and construction workers use hand signals to communicate over distance and noise.

Duties of a Chaining crew member

During a typical chaining operation, it is possible that many and varied duties other than the actual chaining itself are to be undertaken as part of the whole process. To prepare the field chaining party for the task ahead, we shall present some of these duties, as applicable. In some cases, these duties can be modified or tailored, contingent upon the mission, terrain features, and other conditions that may affect the speed and accuracy of the operation.

Giving hand signals and voice signals

During fieldwork, it is essential that you communicate with the other members of the survey party over considerable distances. Some-times you may be close enough to use voice communication; more often, you will use hand signals.

Avoid shouting because it is the sign of a beginner. Standard voice signals between chain-men must be used at all times to avoid misunderstanding. There are also several recommended hand signals. Those shown are recommended, but any set of signals mutually agreed upon and understood by all members of the party can also be used. It is important to face the person being signaled. Sometimes, if it is difficult for you to see the other person, it helps to hold white flagging in your hand when giving signals. When signals are given over snow-covered areas, red or orange flagging is more appropriate.

To read more about using hand signals whilst surveying, click here.

To find out more about hand signals, please contact us at (800) CALVADA or visit www.calvada.com.

Calvada proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.

What Is the Importance of a Topographical Survey? | Corona, CA

A topographic survey is different from other surveys by studying and measuring the surface of the land. Topographical survey measurements are carried out using both GPS or Global Positioning System and Electronic Distance Metering (EDM). The parcel elevation is shown on the map of the survey via contour lines representing the Earth’s surface’s contours and also via elevations at different spots on the map.

The topographic surveys refer to both natural and human-constructed surface characteristics such as storage walls, gas lines, wells, trees, lakes, closed spaces, buildings, utility poles, etc.

But who really needs a survey like this? Architects could use this type of survey for the construction of a 3D plot of their design. If a building site is limited by significant topographical challenges, such as steep grades, existing man-made structures or other problematic conditions, a topographical inspection is ideal in order to ensure that the design proposed will work under these conditions before construction starts.

Government agencies also use topographical surveys to produce, implement, evaluate existing infrastructure, carry out required revisions and consider environmental projects, and implement the Construction and Zoning Regulations.

And yes, these types of industries would definitely need something like this, but how about the average layman? Do these surveys come in handy? Yes. If you are planning a garden or what to do with some property you own, this survey aims primarily to gather data on the characteristics of the land and its altitude.

Topographic surveys for changes in ownership of the property or land, known also as contour surveys, must be conducted before the owner makes changes. Safety is also an extremely important reason for topographic surveys. Inaccurate, incomplete or old underground records may jeopardize your projects.

To find out more about topographical surveys, please contact us at (800) CALVADA or visit www.calvada.com.

Calvada proudly serves Corona and all surrounding areas.