The scientists from USGS (United States Geological Survey) Astrogeology Science Center, in collaboration with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the Lunar Planetary Institute have virtually released the first ever digital, unified, global, geological map of the moon namely “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon”.
- It will serve as a blueprint for future human missions and a source of research and analysis for the educators and the general public interested in lunar geology.
- It should be noted that the moon is the closest cosmic body to Earth.
How geological map of moon is prepared?
- S Harrel, a NASA Space Grant student, mapped the surface features of the moon which included crater rim crests, buried crater rim crests, fissures, grabens, scarps, mare wrinkle ridges, faults, troughs, rilles, and lineaments while the researchers built on the original digital renovation of the six 1:5,000,000-scale lunar geologic maps comprising of the near, central far, east, west, north and south sides that was released in 2013. Data from recent satellite missions to the moon and resources data from NASA’s Apollo Missions were also used to come up with the map.
- Elevation data for the moon’s equatorial region came from stereo observations collected by the Terrain Camera on the recent SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) mission led by JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Topography for the north and south poles was supplemented with NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter data.
Informative tool for for present & future lunar missions:
This map provides vital information for new scientific studies including Polar Regions of the moon. The moon’s South Pole’s area is much larger than the North Pole and there could be the possibility of presence of water. Also, the South Pole region contains the fossil record of the early Solar System. Missions for South Pole exploration:
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chandrayaan 2, is an active mission that targets the Lunar South Pole for exploration.
- Other moon missions like the Artemis (human spaceflight programme), that is a crewed exploration programme of Nasa, plan to send humans to the Lunar South Pole by 2024.
This version of the map is a digital release only available in GIS and PDF formats. from the Unified Geologic Map of the Moon website.
Headquarters– Reston, Virginia, United States
Director– Jim Reilly