Topographic Map of Mars M 25M 3 RMC 1976 is a detailed cartographic record of the Martian surface, produced by the Interior-Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia in 1976. This map represents a major collaborative effort by multiple organizations, specifically, the Viking Project Office, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, and the Planetology Programs Office, all under NASA contracts.
The time of the map's creation was in the wake of Mariner 9's successful mission to Mars and the start of the Viking Program, both integral to NASA's extensive exploration of the red planet. Mariner 9 had delivered a wealth of information about Mars' topography, which provided the essential data for this map, whereas the Viking Project would land the first United States spacecraft on Mars later that year.
The Topographic Map of Mars M 25M 3 RMC 1976 includes a North Polar Region projection and a South Polar Region projection, effectively capturing the Martian poles in significant detail. In contrast, the bottom part of the map features a Mercator projection, presenting a conventional cartographic view of Mars' surface and making the map more comprehensible for terrestrial viewers.
Moreover, the map features an index in the lower left, denoting areas of useful image coverage, with a key providing a chronological list of the pictures taken within each of these areas. However, it is noteworthy that the Mariner 9 albedo data for Area 3 is not available, indicating some limitations in the comprehensive mapping of Mars at the time. Overall, this topographic map stands as a testament to the ambitious endeavor of interplanetary mapping and the burgeoning exploration of Mars in the mid-1970s.