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Scientists Map Entire Surface of the Moon For the First Time

Margaret Tionquiao

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  • For the first time in decades of studies and moon explorations, scientists have created an exhaustive map of the moon’s entire surface.
  • This new map is named as the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” and is available for viewing online.
  • The data were from the Apollo explorations and the newer satellite missions SELENE and LOLA.

Aptly named as the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon,” this colorful lunar map uniquely covers the entire surface of the moon and is now available for online viewing.

This is a seamless, globally-consistent 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map of our mysterious neighbor – the moon. Though it has been a permanent fixture in our skies for about 4.5 billion years, it has remained a subject to a lot of more studies.

Data from the six Apollo-era regional maps available on Google Moon were combined with the more recent satellite missions to put together an exhaustive detail of the moon’s craggy surface in one map. The latest data had been a combination of the equatorial region observations collected by the Terrain Camera on the Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the north and south poles data supplemented by NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA).

Arizona State University’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Wide Angle Camera (WAC) shows color-shaded relief from the moon’s far side.
2005 vs. 2010 maps of the moon: The LOLA’s laser-ranging capacity shows the surface elevation, slope, and roughness in 3D.
The 3D view image of the landing site of Apollo 15, the ninth crewed and fourth lunar landing mission under the Apollo program, as captured by JAXA’s terrain camera (TC).
The topographic difference on the landing site of Apollo 15, before and after landing.

It is the first time for the scientists to redraw existing maps and merge them with new data sets to classify the entire surface of the moon’s rock layers.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) geologist and lead author Corey Fortezzo said:

“This map is a culmination of a decades-long project. It provides vital information for new scientific studies by connecting the exploration of specific sites on the moon with the rest of the lunar surface.”

USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly said, this news is particularly important because “People have always been fascinated by the moon and when we might return. So, it’s wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions.”

The Unified Geologic Map of the Moon
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