Map projection

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A map projection is any method of representing the surface of a sphere or other shape on a plane. Map projections are necessary for creating maps. All map projections distort the surface in some fashion. Depending on the purpose of the map, some distortions are acceptable and others are not; therefore different map projections exist in order to preserve some properties of the sphere-like body at the expense of other properties. There is no limit to the number of possible map projections.

Contents

Background

For simplicity, this article usually assumes that the surface to be mapped is the surface of a sphere. However, the Earth and other sufficiently large celestial bodies are generally better modeled as oblate spheroids, and small objects such as asteroids may have irregular shapes. These other surfaces can be mapped as well. Therefore, more generally, a map projection is any method of "flattening" into a plane a continuous surface having curvature in all three spatial dimensions.

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