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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  • dimitric
    dimitricWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 9:34 am
    My head hurts. Bright colors. They blind me.
    • soccersprout
      soccersproutTuesday, May 5, 2020 at 4:12 pm
      It looks like someone splattered paint all over the moon
      • jamiruho-158740159469
        jamiruho-158740159469Monday, May 4, 2020 at 9:29 am
        The colors almost look like the inside metals of an asteroid
        • mb123
          mb123Monday, May 4, 2020 at 7:54 am
          I honestly could look at that all day!
          • adlle362
            adlle362Friday, May 1, 2020 at 6:00 am
            Hi everyone! How are you guys today??😃🤓
            • adlle362
              adlle362Friday, May 1, 2020 at 5:58 am
              That is kind of cool 😎😎👍👍
              • jelly12234f
                jelly12234fThursday, April 30, 2020 at 8:31 am
                #flex tape like this post if you like the meme
                • jelly12234f
                  jelly12234fThursday, April 30, 2020 at 8:31 am
                  it looks like some one FLEX Spray'd it
                  • itz_maya06
                    itz_maya06Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 7:01 am
                    OMG this is so cool 🤩 i really want to go . the colours are so pretty ♥️
                    • heeheehaahaa21
                      heeheehaahaa21Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 10:52 am
                      did you think the colors were actually on the moon
                      • jango
                        jangoFriday, May 1, 2020 at 4:41 am
                        you know it is not really those colors it is covered by dust that is light to dark grey the colors show depth and height
                        • dimitric
                          dimitricWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 9:36 am
                          True. The bright colors aren't actually on the moon, it's just how they measure the depth, height, and length.
                      • gilchey
                        gilcheyThursday, April 30, 2020 at 3:53 am
                        That's good news! :D
                        • dimitric
                          dimitricWednesday, May 6, 2020 at 9:34 am
                          Wow. Thank you.