What is our Moon really made of?
The first map that shows what kinds of rocks make-up the lunar surface was published this week—and it’s moving straight into the hands of the first astronauts to visit the Moon in over 50 years.
NASA is actually planning to land astronauts—one female, one male—on the Moon in 2024 as the Artemis 3 mission, and after that, about once each year.
This new map is a synthesis of six maps constructed during the 1960s and 1970s when NASA last flew missions to the Moon as part of the Apollo program. But they’ve been amalgamated and updated using data from recent satellite missions.
The creators (USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona.) of the incredibly detailed 1:5,000,000 scale geology map of the Moon, says that the map will be used as a reference for lunar science and future human missions to the lunar surface.
Developed in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute, this “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon” will serve as the definitive blueprint of the Moon’s surface geology.
The digital map is available to download now in various resolutions including super hi-res and shows the Moon’s geology in incredible detail (1:5,000,000 scale). There’s also a revolving video version.
According to Jamie Carter, the two maps, shown above, are orthographic projections showing the geology of the Moon’s near side and far side. The topography comes from data from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) while the elevation data for the Moon’s equatorial region comes from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE) mission.
USGS researchers then came up with a unified description of the rock layers on the Moon.
Corey Fortezzo, USGS geologist and lead author says The 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.”