The pessimist mourns the glass’s half-emptiness, the optimist rejoices that it’s semi-full and the engineer just thinks the glass is twice the size it should be. I wonder what a space engineer would think of this map of Mars, half underwater.

Although the latest scientific evidence seems to indicate there once was water on Mars – laying to rest a controversy that has raged ever since ‘canals’ were detected on its surface – The Red Planet nowadays is rather rocky and definitely dusty, and not even close to moist. To map Mars as if it’s covered with oceans, seas and bays is clearly too Terra-centric.

It might help to know that this map of of a semi-submerged Mars is of Dutch origin. As the Dutch have always struggled to keep their country above sea-level, they might find it impossible to imagine a world without encroaching seas. This map therefore may say less about the precarious environment of Mars than about that of the Netherlands itself, a country not coincidentally named for its disadvantageous position vis-à-vis the North Sea.

None of which explains, however, why this vision of Mars would be upside down, with the Zuidpool (South Pole) at the top and the Noordpool (North Pole) at the bottom of the map. Maybe Dutch engineering isn’t what it used to be.

The map shows several continents protruding from the Martian waves. In the southern (top) hemisphere, these are:
• Gillland (which has far too many l’s in its name for a continent on any planet; and seeing its coast is a dotted line, probably is an ice-island)
• Burchardtland
• Cassiniland
• Lockyerland
• Jacobland
• Keplerland
• Webbland
• Huygensland (ostensibly the biggest continent, extending way down north)

In the northern (bottom) hemisphere, the continents are:
• Fontanaland
• Herschelland
• Dawesland
• Mädlerland
• Rosseland (a protrusion from the polar ice in the north)

From the few names I recognise, the continents seem to be named after astronomers (Keppler, Huyghens, Cassini, Herschel). I’m unsure whether the same applies for the bodies of water, these ones on the western (or is that eastern, since it’s upside down; in any case, the left) hemisphere:
• Maraldi Sea
• Huggins Bay
• Hook Sea
• Zöllner Sea
• Beer Sea
• Lambert Sea
• Newton Strait
• Arago Strait
• Herschell Strait
• Dawes Ocean
• Kaiser Sea

On the other hemisphere, there are:
• De la Rue Ocean
• De la Rue Strait
• Dawes Sea
• Maunder Sea
• Ariy Sea
• Faye Sea
• Tycho Sea

Apart from Isaac Newton and Tycho Brahe (the Danish astronomer with the bronze nose) and names previously used for the continents, I don’t recognise anyone. The tropics are called tropic of Lion (Leeuwskeerkring) and tropic of Aquarius (Watermanskeerkring).

This map, unfortunately undated and unsourced, was taken from the Agile Rabbit Book of Historical and Curious Maps.