After a mission that far exceeded expectations, Curiosity rover returns to celebrate at the Curiosity Landing Site Trailhead

OpenTrails Achieves Escape Velocity!

The open data format for Parks and Recreation expands to the red planet and beyond.

The national park system may be “America’s Greatest Idea” but preserving open space for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations is a concept that has proven value far beyond national borders. Now that we are capable of launching, landing and operating motorized vehicles on planets beyond Earth we need to consider the preservation of lands in the entire solar system and beyond. These lands provide opportunities for scientific exploration, natural resource conservation and of course outdoor recreation. We hear Mars has killer mountain biking!

So today we’re pleased to announce that Trailhead Labs is proposing some exciting additions to the OpenTrails data specification. A ‘planet’ attribute will be added to all geographic features in the specification, including trail segments, trailheads and areas. The addition of a top-level ‘rover’ usage attribute to trail_segments.geojson will make it easy for explorers to find trails suitable for remotely operated exploration vehicles. Finally, a ‘landing_site’ attribute will be added to trailheads.geojson so that introducing new exploration (and recreation) space vehicles to the surface of planets can be done at the most convenient access points to rover trails.

Here is an example Trailhead:

"type": "FeatureCollection",
"features": [
"type": "Feature",
"properties": {
"id": "curiosity-landing",
"name": "Curiosity Landing Site",
"planet": "Mars",
"landing_site": "Yes",
"drink_water": "No",
"parking": "Yes",
"kiosk": "No",
"restrooms": "No",
"steward_id": "nasa",
"segment_ids": "curiosity-1"
"geometry": {
"type": "Point",
"coordinates": [

To demonstrate the potential of these new attributes Trailhead Labs is publishing the first OpenTrails compliant open dataset for Mars. It includes the Curiosity Rover Landing Site Trailhead and the historic Curiosity Trail that follows the exploratory path the rover took from the landing site all the way to the Pahrump Hills.





Support for other planets is still being implemented in the OpenTrails Mobile application but thanks to support for Mars base maps on MapBox you can see the OpenTrails data on OuterSpacial.

Check it out!

We’re also recommending the charter of a new Code for America inspired brigade called Code for the Milky Way to unite civic technologists across the galaxy. We look forward to seeing what this dynamic group of citizens from all countries and planets builds with the galactic community.

Happy April 1st to everyone (everywhere)!

In all seriousness, OpenTrails will be open for public comment this summer, so it’s time to start thinking about how to make it even better, even if it’s still just for Earth!

If you’re coming to State of the Map US in New York this summer, get in touch with us for information on a birds of a feather session for The Great Outdoors.