We know the moon is beautiful. It has been referenced in many a love story, official or secretive. Its beauty has been mentioned in many musical pieces too. And when you do peer out of your window into the night sky, it really does look something else. Now, you can get a better measure of the exact nature of the surface of the moon, because this is the first time, we are seeing such unprecedented detail. The US Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute have released the map called “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” and is on a 1:5,000,000 scale.
The USGS says that to create the new digital map, scientists used information from six Apollo-era regional maps along with updated information from recent satellite missions to the moon. The missions include the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Japan’s SELENE. The existing historical maps were redrawn to align them with the modern data sets. The earlier data as well as the interpretations remain preserved. Once the new data was merged with the relevant existing data, the USGS researchers developed what is a unified description of the stratigraphy, or rock layers, of the moon.
“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,” says the current USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly. “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,” says Corey Fortezzo, USGS geologist and lead author.
While the new maps will be relevant for future missions to the moon, the researchers at this time believe this will be very useful for educational institutions. And even if you aren’t in school, this is still very exciting anyway. You can also download the map from here.