USGS Unveils Stunning Geological Map Of The Moon


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The USGS created a detailed map of the Moon's surface by patching together data from several missions (Credit: NASA/GSFC/USGS)

NASA's ambitious plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024 just got one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to the first comprehensive map of our satellite's surface. Unveiled on April 23, 2020, the colorful 1:5,000,000-scale "Unified Geologic Map of the Moon" is the result of decades of painstaking work by scientists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, and the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

"People have always been fascinated by the moon and when we might return," said current USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly. "So, it's wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions."

To create the digital map, the researchers drew upon information from the localized maps made during the six Apollo manned missions, as well as more recent data collected by satellite lunar missions. These include stereo observations of the Moon's equatorial region by the Terrain Camera on the recent SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) mission led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, as well as the topography data of the Moon's north and south poles obtained by NASA's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter.

The digital map is carefully color-coded to allow for easy identification of the Moon's key topographical features (Credit:NASA/GSFC/USGS)

The cartographers began by redrawing the historical maps and aligning them with the current updated information. This allowed them to preserve previous observations and interpretations. Once the data had been merged, the USGS researchers created a consistent description of the various rocks, craters, and other exciting geological features that adorn our 4.5 billion-year-old satellite. This helped streamline the conflicting rock names, descriptions, and ages outlined in the various area maps created over the years. Each geological feature was carefully color-coded to enable scientists to easily recognize similar topography. For example, the bright pink covering a large area of the map represents the impact craters that give the Moon its distinct pockmarked appearance. They are believed to have been created by asteroids that hit the lunar surface during the Imbrian era, some 3.5 billion years ago.

The USGS researchers believe that in addition to being an essential blueprint for NASA astronauts, the lunar map will also prove invaluable for the international scientific community, educators, and the public-at-large.


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  • helenp1093
    helenp1093Monday, April 19, 2021 at 7:21 am
    I want the pattern for my chromebook!
    • godlove333
      godlove333Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 12:01 pm
      I love that pattern and I want it on my phone case! like if u agree
      • vavadeg
        vavadegSunday, June 21, 2020 at 10:37 am
        Before i read the title i thought the moon had changed color
        • helacruela
          helacruelaWednesday, June 3, 2020 at 11:11 am
          True fact: Did you know that 50 moons can fit inside the earth?
          • maria_goodvibes
            maria_goodvibesThursday, December 10, 2020 at 12:41 pm
            Yea i knew that it's so cool right?
            • aarowa
              aarowaTuesday, August 18, 2020 at 5:27 pm
              Yeah it's super cool
            • neverkid
              neverkidWednesday, June 3, 2020 at 6:32 am
              2024? How come it took them so long? The last moon flight was literally ages ago!
              • belle10
                belle10Monday, June 15, 2020 at 2:24 pm
                I KNOW MORE LIKE....................... 3036! LOL BUT TRUE YEAH YOU'RE RIGHT 😀
              • abby5
                abby5Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5:00 pm
                So cool ! I love space🌍
                • adriannathebest
                  adriannathebestMonday, May 18, 2020 at 8:30 am
                  Woah.I have never seen anything more girly in my life
                  • rattykid
                    rattykidTuesday, May 19, 2020 at 2:09 pm
                    Lol thats what i said
                  • ytg_raindrop
                    ytg_raindropFriday, May 15, 2020 at 1:39 pm
                    Wonder if i'll live on the moon or mars ( guess i'll kind of have to in 10 years)
                    • hsroa
                      hsroaTuesday, May 12, 2020 at 6:37 am
                      That's huge
                      • searchlight
                        searchlightWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 4:05 pm
                        I love the pictures please follow me if you do to!!!!!!!!!!!