USGS Unveils Stunning Geological Map Of The Moon


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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  • 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
          • mesodog
            mesodogWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 4:05 pm
            I love the pictures please follow me if you do to!!!!!!!!!!!
            • oofman67
              oofman67Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 9:38 am
              i could make that, i just take some paint from the garage and get my moon model, what will happen next? 😒
              • dimitric
                dimitricWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 9:34 am
                My head hurts. Bright colors. They blind me.
                • cutefurrygamer
                  cutefurrygamerWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 5:42 am
                  #stay safe DOGO
                  • cutefurrygamer
                    cutefurrygamerWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 5:25 am
                    When I saw it when I was scrolling I was confused until I actually read the article it's cool!😎
                    • mesodog
                      mesodogWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 4:07 pm
                      yeah I did the same thing! #notlying
                    • mesodog
                      mesodogTuesday, May 5, 2020 at 4:12 pm
                      It looks like someone splattered paint all over the moon