A New Map of the Moon
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter science team released the highest resolution near-global topographic map of the moon ever created. This new topographic map shows the surface shape and features over nearly the entire moon with a pixel scale close to 328 feet.
Although the moon is Earth’s closest neighbor, knowledge of its morphology is still limited. Due to the limitations of previous missions, a global map of the moon’s topography at high resolution has not existed until now. With LRO’s Wide Angle Camera and the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter instrument, scientists can now accurately portray the shape of the entire moon at high resolution.
Astronomy Picture of the Day
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2011 November 18
A Colorful Side of the Moon
NASA / GSFC / DLR / Arizona State Univ. / Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Explanation: This colorful topographical map of the Moon is centered on the lunar farside, the side not seen from planet Earth. That view is available to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter though, as the spacecraft’s wide angle camera images almost the entire lunar surface every month. Stereo overlap of the imaging has allowed the computation of topographical maps with coverage between 80 degrees north and south latitude. The results have about a 300 meter resolution on the lunar surface and 10 to 20 meter elevation accuracy. Data closer to the north and south poles is filled in using the orbiter’s laser altimeter. In this map, white, red, green, and purple represent progressively lower elevations. In fact, the large circular splotch tending to purple hues at the bottom is the farside’s South Pole-Aitken Basin. About 2500 kilometers in diameter and over 12 kilometers deep, it is one of the largest impact basins in the Solar System.