About maps and space

I am passionate about maps. This passion started when I was a kid. I spend hours and hours examining the maps I found in geography books, science-fiction novels of Jules Vernes, and bandes dessinees like Tintin. I had a particular interest in old world maps, like the one capturing the epic journey of Magellan. He enabled the first ever circumnavigation of the globe around 1521, and left us with the most complete record of our planet biodiversity in his logbook. Maps like these were my very first tools to explore the world, to reveal me the beauty, diversity but also fragility of our home planet, long before I could travel myself to remote countries. I love maps because they help us navigate the world, telling us not only “where we are” and “where to go”, but also “where we belong” thereby ensuring our culture and also survival. But what intrigued me the most is that I could feel they could also tell us something more about the “how”, about how we are shaped by our environment, how it connects us in space and time. I then realised that what fascinated me about maps is in fact their unique ability to tell a “story”. This passion for maps and their magic brought me to study first oceanography and then Earth Sciences in order to better understand the relationships between our environment and our society. Ultimately this led me to use the most amazing perspective ever enabled by technology today, the global view we get from space. I started to work at the European Space Agency to help scientists, innovators and citizens to use high-tech to better monitor, understand, but also preserve our planet, a little, fragile but unique “pale blue dot”  (Carl Sagan) suspended in the vast immensity of space.

About the author
Pierre-Philippe Mathieu is an Earth Observation  Data  Scientist at the European Space Agency in ESRIN (Frascati, Italy).  He  spent  20+ years working in the field of environmental and ocean modelling,  weather  risk  management  and remote sensing. He has a degree in mechanical engineering  and M.Sc from University of Liege (Belgium), a Ph.D. in  oceanography  from  the University of Louvain (Belgium), and a Management degree from the University of Reading Business School (Uk).




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