Images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbirter (LRO) spacecraft have enabled scientists to stitch together a high-resolution topographic map of the moon. The new moon map covers 98.2 percent of the moon’s surface.
According to Space.com, the new moon map has a pixel scale of about 330 feet.
Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, principal investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), said in a statement:
“Our new topographic view of the moon provides the data set that lunar scientists have waited for since the Apollo era. We can now determine slopes of all major geologic terrains on the moon at 100-meter scale, determine how the crust has deformed, better understand impact crater mechanics, investigate the nature of volcanic features and better plan future robotic and human missions to the moon.”
LRO is orbiting the moon at an average altitude of 30 miles. Thousands of images taken by the Wide Angle Camera attached to the spacecraft were used to create the moon map.
“I could not be more pleased with the quality of the map – it’s phenomenal!” Robinson said. “The richness of detail should inspire lunar geologists around the world for years to come.”
NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009. The spacecraft’s main mission is to photograph the moon in unprecedented detail. Space.com reports that LRO has also spotted historic lunar locations, including the boot prints left by astronauts between 1969 and 1972.
Currently, the moon map covers 98.2 percent of the moon. Persistent shadows at the north and south poles of the moon have prevented LRO from getting a complete picture of the moon. LRO is equipped with a Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter, which will eventually be able to fill in the gaps.